The Museum's Building - Its History and Architecture

The 1st of December 1964 marks the true birth of the "Brücke" Museum in Berlin: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff decided to give a generous donation and promised his artistic bequest to Berlin on the occasion of his 80th birthday. At the same time and advised by the art historian Professor Leopold Reidemeister he suggested the set-up of a new building for the museum which would house works by other "Brücke" artists as well. A site outside the city and in close proximity to nature was then sought for the museum. The Berlin senat offered a building site at the edge of the Grunewald. The plans were the responsibility of the Senatsbaudirektor Werner Düttmann, and building activities began in August 1966. The opening-celebration took place on the 15th of September 1967 and included the first presentation of the museum's collection of works by the artist's association "Brücke". In 1989 the administration wing was extended.

The one-storey, flat-roofed building streches out under the high, old pines and birch trees. Built like a bungalow it fits in harmoniously with the quiet, exclusive residential area. Towards the street the museum is closed-off by a low concrete wall. All other faces of the building are surrounded by naturally grown woodlands. The floor plan shows four berth-like rooms of different sizes and proportions, which group themselves with their u-shaped walls around a open green court. A central foyer connects exhibition-space and the administration wing. The exhibition space is set apart from the lobby with its till and seats by a lower floor-level. The building opens towards the outside through high windows reaching down to the floor, allowing the visitor to look from the exhibition space into the courtyard as well as the surrounding nature. The rooms are lit through inclined skylights which remain invisible from the outside and are positioned above the walls where the paintings are hung.

A light coco matting covers the floor which, together with the white colouring of the walls, intensifies the luminosity of the extremly colourful exhibits. The clear simplicity of the architecture echoed up by the furniture. Analogous to the architecure's cubic style Düttmann designed box-shaped leather armchairs for each room which invite relaxed contemplation of the pictures. The character of the building is highly influenced by the interplay of the block-like closure towards the outside and the generous openess of the internal space. With its clear, sober and functional architectural forms the building follows the Bauhaus tradition. It is a typical example of the way in which German architecture of the 60s picked up aesthetic principles of classical modernity. It corresponds with other new museums of the time such as the Ernst Barlach Museum in Hamburg (1962), the Olaf Gulbransson Museum in Tegernsee (1966) or the Federsee Museum in Bad Buchau (1968). Its exhibition space of 500 square meters make the Brücke Museum Berlin's smallest Museum. The building's strength lies in its quiet intimacy and conscious spacial reduction, which serve the museum's real purpose in an ideal way: a concentrated presentation of the life and work of the "Brücke" artists.