A COMMUNITY BONDED BY THE LOVE OF ART


WATCH FILM PORTRAIT OF THE FRIENDS

FOR OVER 40 YEARS, WE HAVE BEEN GUIDED BY PASSION FOR ART

Christian Kohorst, FRIENDS of the National Gallery / Photo © Peter Rigaud
Chairman

The entrepreneur Christian Kohorst has been the fourth chairman of FREUNDE since spring 2023 and is continuing the successful work of his predecessor Gabriele Quandt with further rejuvenated committees in the spirit of FREUNDE: with his great love for art as well as the desire for risk and the entrepreneurial response to the Challenges of today's National Gallery.

Already at the founding meeting in 1977 it was decided to acquire Max Liebermann's “Stevenstift in Leyden” in order to forestall other prospective buyers. The association was therefore immediately active in its statutory task. This attitude continues to shape FRIENDE’s actions to this day.

We, the FRIENDS, have been supporting the work of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin for more than 40 years. Preserving this large National Gallery, which comprises six (soon to be seven) buildings, and supporting it is the most socially relevant task of our non-profit association “FRIENDS of the National Gallery”. We are expanding the Nationalgalerie's scope for action in times of limited public resources: for the buildings, for the institution, for Berlin, for national and international visitors and for art.

The annual membership fees, supplemented by sponsors, make a significant contribution to making many of the exhibition projects and collection presentations possible, which reflect art production from the 19th century to the present and bring it to a broad audience.

We love the enthusiasm of the audience - when something unexpected opens up in the art experience, when boundaries shift and one's own horizons expand. We are particularly interested in projects that write museum, city or art history - on a large and small scale, complicated or very easy to implement. The only requirement is that those responsible for curatorial work convince us of their ideas - then we are happy to do everything we can to make a project possible.

In collaboration with the curators of the National Gallery, as FRIENDS - and only a few people know this - we take on extensive operational and organizational tasks with our own team. In other words, we work to implement projects quickly, innovatively, efficiently and in a way that conserves resources. We benefit from the fact that as a private support association we can think and shape things in an entrepreneurial way. In this way, we always create considerable freedom for artists and curators.

We consider art, culture and, above all, broad access to cultural education to be essential for the success of our social interaction. The idea of ​​patronage, which may sound somewhat outdated - i.e. the private support of works of art or institutions without any expectation of commercial benefit - appears to us more than ever to be of great value. That's why it's our heartfelt wish to inspire many, very different people for the FREUNDE mission and to pass on our passion to younger people. There are the young FRIENDS (18-40 years old) and the little FRIENDS (up to 18 years old), but also the 2FREUNDE membership, which makes it possible to enjoy membership at a reduced price with a loved one of your choice. And of course our company friends, who provide access to the National Gallery to a wide range of employees.

To support the large National Gallery - with the Old and New National Gallery, Hamburger Bahnhof, Friedrichswerder Church, Museum Berggruen and the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection, a museum comprising a total of six houses in the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany - and to see it into the future as a lively, multi-voiced and international institution carry, that is the most important task of the FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

FRIENDS are united by a desire to take risks and a lot of enthusiasm in realizing great projects.

BOARDS

The people who work together for the direction, strategy and mission of FRIENDS. In addition to the chairman, the board also consists of at least one deputy and a treasurer. The volunteer board is advised by a volunteer board of trustees and supported by a full-time management team in implementing its goals. This is particularly important because the funding of projects also includes operational activities.

PIN OF HONOR

Our award for people who
a special contribution to FRIENDS
and their projects

HISTORY OF THE FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY

The FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY, since its founding in 1929 and after its re-establishment in 1977, have been a cornerstone of private art funding in Germany. The re-establishment marked the new beginning of an era of commitment and support for the art world - initially through significant purchases for the collection. In 1982, the FRIENDS made a strong statement about the importance of contemporary art with the bold purchase of Barnett Newman's “Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue IV” for $1.2 million. They set another milestone in 1984 by taking over the financing of an exhibition for the first time, “Edgar Degas. Pastels, oil sketches, drawings,” which paved the way for future projects.

In 1996, the FREUNDE expanded their commitment by founding the first subsidiary “Museum&Location”, which made it possible to use the rooms of the state museums for events. This step was a sign of the club's entrepreneurial spirit. In 2000, the FREUNDE initiated the Nationalgalerie Prize, which has since honored an outstanding contemporary position every two years, thereby consolidating its role as a promoter of contemporary art.

The FRIENDS reached a high point with the organization and marketing of the exhibition “The MoMA in Berlin” in 2004, which set a record with 1.2 million visitors and underlined the international importance of Berlin as an art metropolis. The establishment of the Foundation for the Acquisition of Contemporary Art in 2005, equipped with six million euros of capital generated from the MoMA exhibition, enabled the National Gallery to purchase important contemporary works and strengthened the FREUNDE's commitment to contemporary art.

In the same year, FREUNDE founded another subsidiary, “Museum&Service”, which takes care of exhibition-related services. These strategic decisions and foundations testify to the visionary orientation of FRIENDS, which not only promote art, but also make a lasting contribution to the development and international reputation of the National Gallery. The history of the FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY is therefore a story of tireless commitment to art, from its founding and re-establishment to groundbreaking initiatives that shape and enrich Berlin as an art location.

The Foundation

The Friends of the National Gallery Foundation for Contemporary Art has provided the National Gallery with an annual purchasing budget since 2005. This is the first foundation in Germany whose sole purpose is to acquire contemporary art for a state museum.

Museum & location

Museum & Location makes it possible to use the rooms of the state museums for events and guided tours outside of regular opening hours and to generate additional project budgets through these usage fees.

Museum & Services

“Museum & Service” provides services related to exhibition organization, such as visitor management, museum shop concepts, Live!Speaker projects and leadership services.