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Avant Retro - MoMA Comes to Berlin

In the television feature on DW-TV creator Carsten Hueck takes a deeper look at the preparations for the MoMA exhibit in Berlin and the history of the renowned Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night"

After briefly introducing the venue for the exhibition, the Neue Nationalgalerie, the New National Gallery, the feature moves to MoMA’s home on 53rd Street in Manhattan, New York, which is currently closed because it is undergoing renovation. A visit is paid to the MoMA construction site in mid-town Manhattan to see how the project is progressing.

Part of the museum’s enormous inventory has been moved to a branch known as the Museum of Modern Art in Queens, or MoMA QNS. Exhibits and administration are continuing here during the renovation and rebuilding work. The feature will use computer animation to show how the museum will look when the project is finished and the building reopens in 2005.

In an interview, MoMA Director Glenn Lowry explains how the idea for the MoMA exhibition in Berlin was conceived. MoMA’s founding director Alfred H. Barr Jr., was decisively influenced in his ideas for his museum during a visit to Berlin in the 1920s. While here, he went to the Nationalgalerie's Gallery for Contemporary Art at the Kronprinzenpalais. There he met the head of the gallery at that time, Ludwig Justi, who had established a department for contemporary art at the museum. When it was founded in 1929, MoMA became the first museum in America dedicated exclusively to showing and collecting modern, contemporary art in a grand style. Historical black-and-white photographs show how MoMA looked back then.

Before being transported to Berlin, the MoMA collection made a stop in Houston, Texas. The Director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Peter Marzio, commented on the show, saying that in the wake of the September 11th attacks, the costs for insuring the items had become immeasurable. All the artworks, among them van Gogh's "Starry Night," were packed with the same care and transported secretly under the tightest security.

MoMa Neue Nationalgalerie 3

Meanwhile in Berlin, workers remove all the exhibits from the transparent glass cube created for public viewing of art. The Chairman of the Association of the Friends of the Nationalgalerie, Peter Raue, explains the concept behind the exhibition in a way aimed at making Berlin residents and visitors to the city really curious. Raue says he is optimistic the show will recoup the €8 million ($10.2 million) it cost to set up.

Germany vouches for art's safety

The German Minister of State for Culture and Media Affairs, Christina Weiss, pledges that the German government will assume responsibility for the safety of the MoMA collection and for damages should anything happen to it. Without this promise, the show might not have happened. Weiss emphasizes the political relevance of the MoMA exhibition. Just one year after the clouding of German-U.S. relations, she says the project shows the interchange of influence between New York and Berlin, the closeness of ties between the two countries and a reinvigorated the transatlantic dialogue.

The feature also includes quotes from Peter-Klaus Schuster, Director General of the State Museums of Berlin and Director of the Nationalgalerie, and Tessen von Heydenbreck, the spokesman for the board of the directors of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, which is the exhibition’s main sponsor.

More than 200 items in the collection arrive in Berlin in installments. “Starry Night” is carefully unpacked. The curator in charge of the exhibition, Angela Schneider, and André Odier of the Association of the Friends of the Nationalgalerie give a preview of the show that brings Carsten Hueck’s television feature to a close. The feature "Avant Retro - MoMA Comes to Berlin" can be seen in English and German on two screens in the reception hall of the New National Gallery for the duration of the exhibition.

  • Author Stefanie Zobl
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/4gHt
  • Author Stefanie Zobl
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/4gHt