Photo: David von Becker
Although the tasks of providing long-term support to the (Neue) Nationalgalerie and contributing to its further expansion already demanded our full commitment, the scope of our mission was substantially broadened by the recovery of the Alte Nationalgalerie and the opening of the Hamburger Bahnhof.
It was a challenge that we nevertheless embraced. The historical expansion towards the past (19th-century art in the Alte Nationalgalerie) and the present (the museum of the 21st century in the Hamburger Bahnhof) served to intensify a 30-year-old debate: Should the association’s activity (and expenditure) be focused on the 19th century and High Modernism or rather on contemporary art?
Remarkably, the Freunde have continually committed to all three centuries – until today. Now, the works of more than two centuries are beautifully presented in the six houses of the Nationalgalerie, including Museum Berggruen, Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg and Friedrichswerdersche Kirche.
Here, it should be reminded that the Freunde are not the one to determine whether classical or contemporary, established or cutting-edge art takes up residence in any of the six houses belonging to the Nationalgalerie. Rather, it is the decision of those responsible for the artistic direction – the director’s wishes – that guides our own decisions. Indeed, this has been the unbroken principle, the “basic law” if you will, underlying the association’s mission from the start: No work of art may be purchased, exhibited or realised unless it expressly conforms to the director’s wishes.
A range of significant acquisitions for all six houses, over 100 large-scale and smaller exhibitions, not to mention the association-funded Preis der Nationalgalerie, the subsidiary companies (Museum & Location and Museum & Service) and the foundation for the acquisition of contemporary art (Stiftung der Freunde der Nationalgalerie für zeitgenössische Kunst) – all this has been supported by the more than 1.400 members, patrons and committed members of the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. The passion for art has been guiding the activities of the Freunde for more than 40 years and will continue to do so in the future.