Neue Nationalgalerie refurbishment

View from Potsdamer Strasse
View from Sigismundstrasse
Façade detail
Exhibition hall
Staircase hall, lower ground floor
Staircase hall, lower ground floor
Exhibition area with view into sculpture garden, lower ground floor
Cloakroom, lower ground floor
Exhibition hall, June 2016
Exhibition hall, January 2017
Dismantled stone cladding, December 2016
View from Potsdamer Strasse, 1968
Ground floor plan
Lower ground floor plan

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin’s Kulturforum is one of the icons of twentieth-century architecture. The only building realised by Mies van der Rohe in Europe after his emigration to the USA, the Neue Nationalgalerie has been dedicated to the art of the twentieth century since its opening in 1968. After almost 50 years, the damage, deficiencies and deficits of intensive use are to be carefully and sustainably addressed, within the restrictions imposed by the building’s status as a listed monument. The refurbishment and modernisation aims for maximum preservation of the existing fabric, with minimum visual compromise to the building’s original appearance.

Neue Nationalgalerie refurbishment

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is an icon of twentieth-century architecture. Planned and built from 1963 to 1968, the steel and glass structure is the only building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Europe after his emigration to the USA.

After almost fifty years of intensive use, the listed building required a comprehensive refurbishment. The existing fabric has been refurbished and upgraded to current technical standards with a minimum of visual compromise to the building’s original appearance. The functional and technical upgrades include air-conditioning, artificial lighting, security, and visitors’ facilities, such as cloakroom, café and museum shop, as well as improving disabled access and art handling.

The necessity of an extensive repair of the reinforced concrete shell and the complete renewal of the technical building services required an in-depth intervention. In order to expose the shell construction, around 35,000 original building components, such as the stone cladding and all the interior fittings, were dismantled. After their restoration and modification where necessary, they were reinstalled in their precise original positions.

The key to the complex planning process for this project was finding a suitable balance between monument conservation and the building’s use as a modern museum. The unavoidable interventions to the original fabric within this process had to be reconciled with preserving as much of the original substance as possible. Though the essential additions remain subordinate to the existing design of the building, they are nevertheless discreetly legible as contemporary elements. The refurbishment project does not represent a new interpretation, but rather a respectful repair of this landmark building of the International Style.

Tender procedure:
Project start:
Gross floor area:
13,900 m²
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz represented by the Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung
Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
David Chipperfield Architects Berlin