The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin

by Heidi Obermeyer

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It’s about time for an art museum post around here! Museums are something I usually try and save for days when the weather is disagreeable and I really have nothing else to do because they’re almost always open, even on Sundays- a rarity in the Bundesrepublik. Over Easter weekend, everything was closed for 3 of the 4 days that Katelyn was here, so we had to carpe things-that-were-open, one of which was the Neue Nationalgalerie. The Neue Nationalgalerie is a collection of modern art, which for me always means a few things I really like (Warhol, neon signs, etc.) and a bunch of crappy art that I have no interest in seeing. I always get modern art and contemporary art confused, which is problematic because I like contemporary art and but find modern art to be kind of  lame. On multiple occasions I have been psyched for a museum, walked inside, and totally kicked myself for not acknowledging my inner simpleton’s lack of sophisticated interest in modern work. Lesson learned: I need to stick with brightly-colored, no-hidden-meanings artwork that make you go “That’s pretty!” instead of “…What?”

Nonetheless, the collection at the Neue was pretty good and kept the boring to a minimum, minus a few particularly creepy black and white films being played on repeat. They also had a lot of work from DDR artists, which I hadn’t seen before- I didn’t realize that they had a specific style of work. The focus on the DDR in Berlin is so interesting- it existed for such a short period of time relative to other independent entities in German history (what about Prussia? Bavaria as its own kingdom?) but still looms in the city’s identity. I’m curious to see if the memory of the DDR will fade from the German psyche over the course of my lifetime.

I was also excited to visit the Neue Nationalgalerie because I finally got a museum pass (just 20 euro annually for students for all of the state-run museums in Berlin- a fantastic deal considering Schloß Charlottenburg alone was 7 euro for a reduced ticket) and I’m hoping to start doing some more museum wandering soon. I think my next stop will be the Hamburger Bahnhof, which has more contemporary exhibitions and a lot of interesting-looking temporary stuff on display right now. What other museums in Berlin should I check out? I’ve only been to Pergamon on Museum Island so far, any favorites there? I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the choices, so I could use some input. Happy Friday!

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