Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) and Prussia’s Nineteenth Century

Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) and Prussia’s Nineteenth Century

thumbnail (5)In the early 19th century, a complex of five museums was founded on the northern half of the Spree island for the expansive Prussian art collections; the so-called Museumsinsel (Museum Island). The Royal Museum was the first of the buildings to be erected in the 1820s, containg the renowned Anquities Collection (Antikensammlung). When plans for a second museum were formed, the name of the Royal Museum was changed into Altes Museum (Old Museum), to form a pair with Neues Museum (New Museum) dedicated to the Egyptian collection.


thumbnail (6)This 3 hour walk start off exploring the remarkable history and the architecture and collections that together form this art island in the heart of Berlin. Then, having got the sense of the complex, we will make our way to the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) which literally rises up before visitors like a true temple for the arts. In this museum, we form a thorough acquaintance with the fascinating collections of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The building structure of the museum with its monumental exterior staircase and magnificent indoor stairway was opened in 1876 to be the home of contemporary art, hence its vast rooms of 19th century paintings and sculpture. The harmonious relationship between the museum’s architecture and its vibrant collection is a unique experience in itself.


thumbnail (7)The tour will concentrate on the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich in order to highlight the German Romanticism. We will talk about the spiritual beauty of Friedrich’s works and discuss his unique artistic practice. Furthermore, we will try to understand why his paintings have fascinated and influenced generations of other artists, and to what extent they keep inspiring today’s viewers.  Alongside Friedrich, we expand our view by taking in many other great examples of 19th century German art, such as the large collection of paintings by Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth and Adolf Menzel that enable us to discuss the practice of Realism during this era.


Once we have built our  sense of the German art of the period, we can broaden are lens by exploring the museums rich holdings of French Impressionism as well. Masterpieces by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne and sculptures by Auguste Rodin will be subject of our attention and analysis too. In order to consider the revolutionizing priniciples of this movement, we consider the importance of individual artistic style, the influences of non-western artistic practices, the emergence of new art supplies, and the influence of photography for the visual arts of this period. Our aim is to appreciate these works by thinking about the multiple contexts—cultural, creative and political–that led to this influential period art.

f4Fabiola Bierhoff is an art historian and PhD Candidate in the History and Cultural Studies program at the Free University of Berlin. She received her Bachelor in Art History at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006 and holds a Masters in Museum Curatorship summa cum laude from the Free University of Amsterdam. Her Master Thesis on the alternative East German art scene was awarded the Annual Master Thesis Award 2010. Since 2009 she has been an art writer for the bimonthly magazine De Witte Raaf. Fabiola is currently conducting research for her dissertation, which is provisionally entitled “The Role of Autonomous Art Criticism for Performance Art in the Last Decade of the German Democratic Republic”. Her research is funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a research grant from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
twins 1 Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov are identical twins. As visual artists they work collaboratively in the border region between painting and installation. Originally from St. Petersburg, they received their art education in the United States (BFA – Rhode Island College, MFA – Hunter College of The City University of New York) and in France (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris). They moved to Germany in 1999 and have travelled half of Europe thanks to numerous fellowships and residency programs. The Petschatnikovs have exhibited widely throughout Europe as well and are represented by Wagner+Partner Gallery in Berlin. In addition, the sisters both teach studio art and art history at a number of schools and institutes in Berlin and Hamburg. Since 2000 they have been invited to give regular workshops and tours at the Kunsthalle Museum in Hamburg. One of the major strategies of their art production as well as their teaching lies in juxtaposing classical and contemporary art.
f1Madelief ter Braak is architectural historian and freelance writer/journalist. In 2011 she graduated cum laude with a Research Master Art History & Archaeology from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). Fascinated by urban public space, she focuses on the use and representation of this everchanging aspect of the city in the past, present and future. In her research and writing she’s guided by unconventional sources in art, photography, literature, poetry, films and music. Cross-cultural interests and curiosity have led to several publications in very diverse (online) magazines. For Blauwe Kamer  magazine on landscape development and urbanism, she writes the column ‘Standplaats Berlijn’. On her research she’s given lectures at the School of Architecture Groningen, the TU Delft and the Art historian Institute from the University of Groningen. Her masterthesis Flanieren in Berlin is written as a journey across east and west, in times of dictatorship and democracy.


Additional Costs: 
Alte Nationalgalerie Tickets
Individual: €10, students & seniors €5
Online shop: €9, students & seniors €4,50

We send you a separate e-mail invoice for your group’s tickets so that our guide can prepay for them, sparing you from long entrance lines. Let us know if you will be holding Museum Island passes or Berlin passes that already cover your admission to Alte Nationalgalerie.


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

Cancellation and Tipping

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