Reproductions of classical statues in a Nazi-era building, guild banners bearing severed heads, Hitler-themed carnival attractions: we explore the peculiar world of Munich’s museums.
Museums in Munich
Barer Straße 27
Tel: 089 23 80 52 16
Open: Tue 10am-10pm, Wed-Sun 10am-5pm
Part of Munich’s famous Pinakothek complex, the Alte Pinakothek is a world-class collection of more than 700 paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries. The striking building houses works by Canaletto, Jan Brueghel, Dürer and El Greco, and Rubens is particularly well represented, with room after room filled by his gigantic paintings.
Tel: 089 2179-1
Open: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm
The largest technical museum in the world, the Deutsches Museum is so famous it even features in Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum. The Italian semiotician would surely appreciate exhibits such as the exact copy of the Altamira cave and its Stone Age paintings, or the replica of the earliest preserved globe, created in 1492, although septuagenarians like him may find the museum’s 55,000 square metre exhibition space hard to cover.
Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung
Tel: 089 22 44 12
Open: Mon-Sun 10am-8pm
Lothringer Strasse 13
Tel: 089 448 69 61
Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke (Museum for Casts of Classical Statues)
Tel: 089 28 92 76 90
Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm
This oddball museum is unlikely to appeal to everyone, but devotees of the bizarre will find the combination of classical statues, Nazi architecture and university department strangely fascinating. White plaster reproductions are scattered through the slightly sinister five-storey building, constructed by the Nazis as part of their plans for nearby Königplatz. It is not clear which parts of the museum are and are not accessible to visitors, and one occasionally feels like a trespasser while wandering around, especially in the two underground storeys, whose corridors are lined with ominous closed wooden doors. It is also easy to stray into the university’s archaeological department, located on the top floor of the building, where students and professors drink coffee, smoke, and make photocopies, impervious to the attentions of the few visitors. The only part of the museum which is clearly out-of-bounds is ironically the most tantalising — the first-floor restaurant, which, sealed off by massive glass doors, is evidently only for employees, taunting the hungry visitor with food smells and the sound of clinking cutlery.
Barer Straße 29 (entrance on Theresienstraße)
Tel: 089 23 805 195
Open: Wed 10am-8pm, Thu-Mon 10am-5pm
A labyrinthine museum dedicated to 19th century art, the Neue Pinakothek is set on different levels connected by ramps; it’s easy to get lost if you don’t follow the recommended route. German artists such as Caspar David Friedrich are naturally well represented, as is late 19th century art by artists such as Cezanne and Van Gogh. Highlights of the collection include one of several versions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and a portrait of Wittgenstein’s sister by Gustav Klimt.
Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Straße 40
Tel: 089 23 80 53 60
Open: Tues, Fri 10am-8pm, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 10-5pm
Opened in 2002, the Pinakothek der Moderne is unquestionably one of Germany’s most important modern art museums. Housed in a spectacular building designed by Stephan Braunfels, its first class collection of modern art (too large to be seen in one visit) covers the whole of 20th century art, including many post-war artists such as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Gerard Richter as well as big names such as Picasso and Dali. Separate sections are devoted to architecture, jewellery, and design; the collection of home computers from the last three decades is particularly fascinating.
Staatlichen Museums Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art)
Tel: 089 29 85 46
Open: Tue-Fri 9am-5pm (Tue also 7pm-9pm), Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Founded in the 16th century by Duke Albrecht V, the Egyptian museum is located in the impressive Residenz palace. Relatively small, the museum is devoted (naturally) to Egyptian artefacts, including statues, jewellery and household goods, some of which are 5000 years old. The amulets and idols depicting Egyptian gods are at once familiar and very alien, while one claustrophobic room houses an eerie collection of mummies.
Tel: 089 22 37 0
Open: Tue-Sun 10am – 6pm
Actually several museums in one, the Stadtmuseum has an endearingly random collection of exhibits. The ground floor houses a collection of items from the old Rathaus (town hall) including sinister statues of cavorting Morris dancers and a guild banner showing John the Baptist’s decapitated head. The top floor music instrument museum has an incredible collection of instruments from around the world, including many oddities; restrain the overwhelming temptation to try them out, unless you want to incur the wrath of the otherwise genial, generously-whiskered, curator. The puppet and side show museum has many creepy puppets completely unsuitable for showing to children, as well as bizarre carnival-related exhibits, such as a (curiously unlabelled) sideshow attraction which involves shooting at Hitler’s head.