Munich’s Alte Pinakothek isn’t just the city’s foremost cultural institution, it more or less defined the fine arts museum as we know it today. The impressive neo-classical building, with its distinctive high, arched windows, was erected in the early 19th century. But it wasn’t built to reflect the power and prestige of a ruler with art as a secondary consideration – the artworks themselves were the stars here. And what works they are, with pieces by just about every major European artist from the 13th to the 18th centuries– Rembrandt, Rubens, da Vinci, Raphael and Velasquez to name just a few, with a particularly strong showing of German masters, including Holbein and Dürer. Even the casual art enthusiast will recognize works from countless reproductions.
This prestigious and highly influential museum celebrates its 175th anniversary this year with a full program of festivities. And like a grande dame fetching her special occasion china out of the cupboard, the Pinakothek is mounting a show of rarely-seen works which normally languish in storage.
Further exhibitions throughout the year are dedicated to the works of Perugino, Vermeer and Cranach (the Elder). Meanwhile, art meets technology in a fascinating display which uncovers the origins of great paintings using infra-red photography. Familiar works become new again as you discover the artist’s underlying sketches, with corrections and modifications showing the twists and turns of the creative process.
Finally, the museum itself takes center stage in an exhibition of historic photographs which show how paintings were originally hung, as well as highlighting the once-sumptuous interiors, most of which fell victim to the War.