The changing weather brings with it rain and cold wind signaling that it is time to bring my Berlin adventures indoors. Which inspired a museum day recently. I chose the Berggruen Museum, which is part of the many State Museums in Berlin.
While Berlin has countless outstanding museums, many of which display world-famous art, the Berggruen Museum's Marc Chagall exhibition caught my eye and ultimately swam to the top of my must-visit list.
Marc Chagall: The Modernity of Decorativeness
This clever two-room exhibit, Marc Chagall: The Modernity of Decorativeness, juxtaposed several paintings and decorative works in the Heinz Berggruen Collection by painter, Marc Chagall, with photography by Ulrike Kolb in a second room.
Heinz Berggruen wrote in his book, that during the 80s, Americans' hunger for decorative art in his Paris gallery was almost insatiable. Chagall's dreamy motives catered perfectly to this demand and thus bourgeoned the ever-popular international Chagall-Community.
...With Photographs by Ulrike Kolb
Ulrike Kolb visited locations in which Chagall’s pictures decorate both public and private spaces: whether in the form of an art postcard in someone’s bedroom, a ceiling decorated in the style of the artist in a Café, or an original in the German President’s office.
Kolb's photographs take a fascinating documentary approach to capturing Chagall's work (original and reproductions) in various, intriguing settings. Each photograph seems to highlight the aesthetics of the interior in which the artworks or reproductions are placed. I found myself imagining what the individual looked like, what their interests were, and what their life looked like based on this intimate little snapshot into their home or work life.
More of the Berggruen Collection
(Go ahead and call me niave, but....) Because the Chagall exhibition was the main (and strangely only) highlight listed on the Berggruen Museum website when I started my museum research, I didn't realize what a quality collection the museum has on display as a part of their permanent collection!
The main portion of the Berggruen collection is housed in a building designed by Friedrich August Stüler and commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1850s. It has a wonderfully graceful spiral staircase with an oculus that shows the cupola perched atop the building. I climbed to the top and worked my way down - flowing through the galleries that extended outward from the spiral staircase to the North, South, East, and West.
Some of the works pictured below are held in an expansion behind the museum. This new addition is clearly marked with a modern, glass walkway that connects the original museum to another historic building (former commandant’s quarters) which house the rest of the Berggruen Collection. An outdoor, landscaped sculpture garden helps tie the two buildings together.
Lastly, I always like to start or end a museum visit with a trip to the museum's cafe. In the case of the Berggruen Museum, their cafe is located in another museum across the street, the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg. But your ticket gets you into that museum on the same day as well, which makes this location a great 2-for-1 excursion! If you really want an all-day museum experience you can also visit the Schloss Charlottenburg kitty-corner to these museums as well.
A coffee, treat, and people-watching are the best conclusion to a museum visit in my opinion! I try to always find time to reflect on what I've seen during this time.
Any other History and/or Art History nerds should add Berlin to their travel list if they haven't done so already. There truly is something for everyone in this city!