Berlin's Academy of Arts new premises to open

19th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 May 2005, BERLIN - A new chapter in the convoluted 300-year history of Berlin's Academy of Arts starts on Saturday when gleaming new premises are inaugurated by German president Horst Koehler.

19 May 2005

BERLIN - A new chapter in the convoluted 300-year history of Berlin's Academy of Arts starts on Saturday when gleaming new premises are inaugurated by German president Horst Koehler.

Constructed on the ruins of the original pre-war Academy site near the Brandenburg Gate, the new EUR 60 million building looms alongside the swank Adlon Hotel, on a site directly opposite the new French Embassy.

In what was seen as a 'test run' for the new building, 5,000 people flocked to the venue in March to witness a continuous 24-hour recitation of German playwright Friedrich Schiller's works, marking the 200th anniversary of his death.

Presently a contemporary art exhibition fills the building, which is equipped with a debating chamber seating 250 people, five ground- floor exhibition halls, and spacious accommodation for archives in a huge underground complex.

The new premises, which exude cubistic flair, mark a homecoming for the Academy after an almost 70-year break in its tradition. In 1937, members were ousted from the original Academy building when Hitler appointed favourite architect, Albert Speer, as the Reich's General Inspector of Buildings.

Building difficulties arose during the construction of the new down-town edifice in the 1990s when the firm planning it at a cost of DEM 80 million (EUR 40 million) went bankrupt.

Several people had warned that such a building could never be realised for that price, and this proved to be the case. Now, there are legal battles raging in the courts that could last for a decade. The project is already running EUR 8 million over budget.

Due to a sudden compulsory change of plans, an underground network of rooms had to be built directly beneath the entrance area of the Academy. Ultimately they will house the institution's huge library, which comprises 540,000 volumes, as well as 60,000 art objects linked to a vast array of inter-disciplinary themes.

The Academy today serves as a custodian for works belonging to a string of famous 20th century German writers, playwrights, movie stars, architects and sculptors.

Currently, the Academy has 370 members, of which about a third live outside Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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