For many travellers, Munich is synonymous with beer, Bavarian food and castles, but among its historic buildings and lively beer halls there’s a burgeoning art world to discover. Put down the beer stein and head into the city’s best art institutes to uncover a creative industry that’s sure to intrigue and inspire. From historical collections at leading museums to modern works at the city's best contemporary art galleries, follow this essential guide to the Munich art scene. Located right in the museum quarter, The Charles Hotel is the perfect location to start your tour.
Lenbachhaus is one of the most important art museums in Munich and located just behind The Charles Hotel. It’s a leading space for local and visiting art history enthusiasts. Curators put together insightful exhibitions focusing on key artworks from the 19th century, including pieces from The New Objectivity movement (a style of Expressionism developed in Germany in the 1920s), and works by artists from the acclaimed Der Blauer Reiter group of the 1910s. As well as historical artworks, the museum also showcases contemporary art by international artists to encourage a dynamic dialogue between the past and the present.
Another institution with an interest in 19th century artworks is Neue Pinakothek (The New Picture Gallery). Open since 1981, the gallery is home to an impressive collection of international masterpieces, not limited to Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, Edgar Degas’ ‘The Woman Ironing’, and Édouard Manet’s ‘Le Déjeuner’. As well as paintings, visitors can find sculptures such as Bertel Thorvaldsen’s ‘Adonis’.
Pinakothek der Moderne (State Gallery of Modern Art) is a striking museum dedicated to art, graphics, design and architecture from the 20th and 21st centuries. While the impressive building will appeal to architecture aficionados, art experts will be particularly impressed by the permanent collections, which include the Modern Art Collection of the Bavarian State Painting Collections. On display are many significant pieces created by world-renowned artists such as Joseph Beuys, Max Beckmann and Andy Warhol. The complex is also home to the Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich and Die Neue Sammlung, the oldest design museum in the world.
Museum Brandhorst is a leading modern art museum on the Munich art scene. It’s home to the famous Brandhorst Collection, a catalogue of works collected since the 1970s by Anette and Udo Brandhorst, featuring more than 1,000 works by pioneering artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. The collection reflects the couple’s interests, which revolves mainly around avant-garde styles, European post-war modernism, pop art and, more recently, art from the United States. As well as displaying permanent collections, the museum hosts a variety of inspiring temporary exhibitions featuring pieces borrowed from, and representing, the modern art movement around the world.
Another Munich gallery of great importance is Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery). Bringing a touch of history to the Munich art scene, the beautifully designed institution houses a collection of works from 16th century masters such as Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. While some parts of the gallery are under renovation until 2018, many sections remain open to those who wish to take their journey of artistic discovery back in time.
Image credits: Pinakothek der Moderne © Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin, Lenbachhaus © lenbachhaus Munich, Neue Pinakothek © Bavarian State Collection of Paintings Munich, Alte Pinakothek © Bavarian State Painting Collections Munich/Julia Schambecke