An Introduction to the Pinakotheken

19 Nov

Most European art museums started off as the personal collections of the royal families, and the Pinakotheken in Munich are certainly no different.  Throughout the centuries the Wittelsbachs amassed masterpieces from the greatest names in European art:  Dürer, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, and many more that can be seen in the Alte Pinakothek.  What makes Munich unique, however, is that King Ludwig I continued to collect “contemporary” art during his reign, eventually being able to open a second gallery, the Neue Pinakothek, which now has works from nineteenth century masters such as Goya, Manet, and van Gogh.  As the twentieth century progressed and the collection grew to include the dramatically new art being produced a third gallery was added, the Pinakothek der Moderne, where one can go to see works from such diverse artists as Max Ernst and Andy Warhol.  Altogether they constitute the bulk of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, although there are galleries located throughout Bavaria.

Seeing the collection divided in such a way infuses each gallery with its own unique character and spirit of the eras represented within its walls.  The architecture of each gallery creates an atmosphere fitting of the artworks.  But let’s not get too poetic.  Practically speaking the arrangement has its good sides and its bad sides.  Having the entire collection divided into three easy to cover segments makes them much less daunting.  Or if you’re majorly opposed to Old Masters or abstract art you can avoid them entirely.

There is one major problem with the Pinakotheken, however – the admission prices.  By themselves they’re not bad.  It’s the lack of a good comprehensive ticket that’s frustrating.  You can purchase entry into each gallery separately, of course, but if you want to see all three during your visit to Munich your options are limited.  There is a day ticket for €12 that covers all three galleries, but trying to see all three in one day is just too much.  The only other option is a ticket for €29 that covers five visits to the various galleries.  If you want to do something logical, like seeing one gallery each on three different days, or even seeing two in one day and the third the next, you’re out of luck.

Don’t let that stop you, though.  The Pinakotheken showcase incredible works of art and have the added benefit of often being without the huge crowds to be found at museums such as the Louvre or National Gallery in London.  They also offer admission for €1 on Sundays, giving you a great opportunity to take them in.

Suggested Plan: The logical thing is to go through the Piankotheken chronologically, but that’s by no means necessary.  See whichever one looks good to you.

Don’t Miss: OK, if I had to pick one thing in the whole collection to see, it would have to be room II in the Alte Pinakothek.  Much like seeing Michelangelo in Rome and Monet in Paris, one should really see the masterpieces by Albrecht Dürer while in Munich.

Dining: Each gallery has its own restaurant or cafe, but feel free to explore the neighborhood, as well.  Right across Barer Straße from the Neue Pinakothek is a trio of nice options.  Brasserie Tresznjewski is a great place for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  If you just want a quick coffee there’s Batty Baristas right next door.  If you’re in the mood for something more exotic, Deeba, a Pakistani restaurant, gets consistently good reviews.  Bear in mind it’s a small restaurant so it’s best to make a reservation if you want to go for a post-museum dinner.  If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss Ballabeni Icecream, home of perhaps the best gelato in Munich.  It’s located about a block away from the Pinakotheken across from the Museum Brandhorst.

Other Tips:

  • If you’ve never tried listening to music while visiting a museum, they can provide a great opportunity to do so.  My advice is to listen to something appropriate for the era – Baroque classics at the Alte Pinakothek, in the Neue Pinakothek bit of Saint-Saëns, and jazz and rock, boundary-pushing music of the twentieth century, in the Pinakothek der Moderne.
  • For planning purposes, assume you’ll need three hours in each gallery.
  • If you get tired of paintings there are several other museums in the area, including the city’s collections of Greek and Roman art at the Antikensammlung and Glypthotek.

Website: www.pinakothek.de

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