Exhibition Log #2: Gemäldegalerie Berlin - Permanent exhibition

I saw a note about an exhibition at the Gemäldegalerie Berlin online, and I confess, I promptly thought about the wrong museum.
Unlike the Old National Gallery, which is part of the museum island, the Gemäldegalerie Berlin is located within the Kulturforum, just across the street from the Berlin Philharmonic.

Nice alcove inside the gallery - Pic via smb.museum
Once you reach the actual exhibition rooms, the interior architecture is quite interesting and lends itself well to photography, as well as smaller sets of exhibitions.
However the same can definitely not be said for the outside.
Kulturforum Berlin - Pic via Wikipedia
The inside is constructed as a large central hall, surrounded by two sets of rooms. There is no discernible reason for where there are doors in between rooms, resulting in visitors sometimes awkwardly walking back and forth between rooms. Luckily the staff is very helpful, and the rooms are numbered properly (unlike, say, the National Gallery in London).

The central hall in its normal state. - Pic via smb.museum
There is one other thing that stands out when looking at the floor plan - when you take a journey through the rooms around the long central hall, you move forwards in time - on both sides. You could potentially go through a set of rooms, then cross the hall, go through the next set, then cross the hall again ... but I don't know who would do that. I did the thing practically everybody else did - walked down one side, walked up the other. So I moved forward in history and art style - and then moved backward again. This is really disconcerting and, frankly, also quite exhausting.

The new 'special exhibition' however helps you navigate this problem at least a little bit.
The central hall is occupied by the show 'In a new light', showcasing works that were previously restricted to the storerooms. They are helpfully arranged in accordance with the rooms beyond, giving visitors leave to actually have a sensible progression through the hall and into the next set of rooms. (But like I said, I, like almost all other visitors at the time, didn't do this.)


Une publication partagée par sovotchka (@sovotchka) le

I am guessing that this show is most interesting to people who have already visited the gallery before and are acquainted with the main exhibits. If everything is new to you, the addition of more 'new' things is not as magical as it might otherwise be. But the presentation is really nice - I happen to have a thing for dark backgrounds and moody lighting, so it was definitely a change in atmosphere from the rest of the collection.

I didn't do any research before, so the collection itself was a surprise to me. The focus are European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. And lo and behold, I discovered some old favourites in typical 'I didn't know this was here!' - manner.

Frans Hals - Malle Babbe. 1633-1635.
Another apparent fixture of museum visits are 'I would have sorted this painting in the wrong time period' contenders. And this time, one really stood out.

Georges de la Tour - Peasant Couple Eating. 1622/1625.
My favourite thing about visiting museums is meeting nice people to talk to. This time, I was trying to take a picture of a lovely Vermeer, when a gentleman was practically parked in front of it with an audio guide. I waited for quite some time, but I am young and impatient, so I politely asked him to move a tiny bit so I could take a picture. The man smiled and moved, 'of course', and then, because he liked how interested I was in the painting, he offered me his audio guide so I could listen to the description as well. Thank you, kind Sir!

Jan Vermeer van Delft - The Glass of Wine, 1660.
In one of its many alcoves and cabinets, the gallery showed a tiny exhibiton called 'The Charm of the Small - Studies of Nature in Holland's Golden Age'. I had initially seen the advert for the exhibit in the central hall, but the promotion for this prompted my visit. There weren't many pieces, but those on show were absolutely precious.

Jacques de Gheyn - Rose Branch. 1620.
Another one of the side rooms showed a special kids exhibition. If you take the same route as every other visitor, you get there about three quarters of the way through, by which point it might be too late for it anyway. But it is a well thought out little room, explaining what goes on in the artist's studio, and - to my surprise, showcasing some actual pigments. I love pigments.


There is a lot in this gallery that is worth visiting (despite the hideous exterior), but perhaps the most special painting on show is an illustration of Dutch proverbs done by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
He has painted a scene with an overwhelming amount of details, illustrating around 112 different proverbs. The museum helpfully provides a guide, as some proverbs are impossible to guess for people who don't speak Dutch, or indeed aren't from that time period. And people's reaction to this painting is fascinating to watch, as everybody discovers different things.

My favourite is the red sign on the house on the left side. The sign is near the middle of the painting, next to the pavillion, and it depicts a moon. There's a man standing in the window above, making a rather interesting hand gesture. The proverb describes someone taking on a futile endeavour, and it is worded quite memorably: 'To be pissing against the moon.'

Pieter Bruegel the Elder- Netherlandish Proverbs, 1955. - Pic via Wikipedia

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