The world of art and museums – like so many areas of society – is divided into a pre-pandemic and a post-pandemic era. Before that, that was the time when artists, curators and collectors jetted around the globe, when works of art were sent around the world for blockbuster exhibitions, all according to the motto: ever faster, ever more. After that, that is the time when, after the emergency braking caused by the pandemic, everything slowly starts to move again, but not only can many things be rethought due to the possibilities of digitization, but also have to be rethought due to the current crises.
Yes, there were already considerations as to whether the whole overheated art circus really makes sense. But the new perspective was mainly reinforced by two things: the energy crisis caused by the Russian war of aggression (who would have thought that you would ever feel so close to the 1970s again?) and the increased environmental awareness of the climate crisis (thanks in part to the climate activists – despite all critical remarks regarding the pasting campaigns in museums).
At the annual press conference, Bernhard Maaz, Director General of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, also addressed the fact that museum work has changed as a result of these and a number of other factors. International lending is more reserved, you work more from the stock. Overall, fewer exhibitions have been announced for the coming year. Where previously there were sometimes up to three large special exhibitions with many items on loan, there will initially be one. But you can’t stretch it forever. You can only get items on loan for a certain amount of time. Conservational aspects limit the exhibition time, especially in the case of works on paper and photography. Insurance has increased enormously, which is also a limiting factor.
But museums are attractive when there is always something happening. So the collection holdings have to be presented again and again under new aspects. This is accompanied by a fundamental innovation in the Alte Pinakothek: it is no longer the epochs and schools that determine the sequence of the presentation, but the context of the content. “Old Masters in Motion” is the name of the show that has been showing around 200 paintings in new constellations since last autumn. You can look forward to the exhibition “Colore e Sentimento”, which will present 15 masterpieces from the museum’s own collection as well as around 70 international loans of portrait and landscape painting from Renaissance Venice next autumn.
Meanwhile, there is little news from the Neue Pinakothek, which has been closed since the beginning of 2019 due to the upcoming general renovation. March 31 is the deadline for the last remaining administrative areas. Offices, workshops and the Doerner Institute then mostly move to nearby alternative quarters. But a reopening in 2025 as announced seems a long way off.
Maaz had more positive news to announce about the visitors: “People are coming back,” the museum man rejoiced. Although one is still far below the Corona numbers, compared to other museums, the number of visitors in Munich is “good thanks to a committed audience”. While the Brandhorst Museum is at 47 percent of the pre-pandemic level, the Pinakothek der Moderne manages to reach 87 percent. And there is more good news: the State Gallery in Aschaffenburg will soon be reopened.