Alte Pinakothek Munich shows the old masters


Of all the Bavarian painting museums, the one I love the most is the High Pinakothek in Munich. The art museum houses the large collections of paintings from past centuries.

If you are an art lover, like me, you will surely fall in love with all the works on display at the Alte Pinakothek.

The Alte Pinakothek is not only one of the oldest painting museums in Europe, but also one of the oldest in the world. The name comes from the collections of paintings of the century on display in the museum. “Alte” means “old” and “Pinakothek” names the collections from the 14th to the 18th century.

The Alte Pinakothek is also an ideal meeting point for tourists in Bavaria, I will be happy to personally show you this magnificent building and tell you the background stories you should know.

Year of construction

In 1862, King Louis I of Bavaria ordered the construction of the Upper Pinakothek to begin. The city needed a building for well-known works of art by Wittelsbach and famous paintings by Rubens.

The construction of the Alte Pinakothek was very technically and conceptually advanced for the time. Many museums built later in Germany and other European countries were based on the Upper Pinakothek.

Terrible destruction of a work of art

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Upper Pinakothek was closed and all works of art were moved to prevent loss.

Moving was a good idea, as the building was badly damaged during the war.

Architects of the High Pinakothek in Munich

Leo von Klenze (1784-1864) began working at the Upper Pinakothek on behalf of King Louis I. Von Klenze studied construction and architecture in Berlin with Friedrich Gilly. After graduating, he went to Paris to work as an apprentice teacher.

Von Klenze later returned to Germany, but was attracted to Bavaria. In 1816 he began working for King Louis I. He was responsible for buildings such as the Monopteros Temple and Königsplatz in 1862. He designed the architectural style of the famous Alte Pinakothek.

Architectural styles of the High Pinakothek in Munich

After the new building, the Alte Pinakothek was not only the largest museum in the world, but also had modern architecture. The neo-renaissance-style exterior façade distinguished the building from other museums of the century and made the Alte Pinakothek unique.

After opening to the public in 1836, people from all over gathered in Munich to visit the Upper Pinakothek. Other galleries and museums followed suit, such as the Russian Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, but also other famous galleries in Italy, Belgium, and more.

However, part of the interior of the building was not modified, the color scheme in green and red is based on the design of the rooms, as has prevailed since the time it was built. the Alte Pinakothek and well into the twentieth century.

Reconstruction after the war

During the reconstruction between 1952 and 1957, some destroyed interior fixtures, such as the large, richly decorated loggia on the ground floor, were not replaced. Reopened in 1957 in the presence of Federal President Theodor Heuss.

Gradually, more renovations were carried out and since 2008 a new Lyon silk wall covering has lined the upper floor lobbies.

During the reconstruction, care has been taken not to give the building a completely different appearance, especially with regard to the external characteristics of the building. To document World War I damage as part of the story, some holes in the outer walls were not completely enclosed and filled with bricks.

Architect Hans Dollgast (1891-1974) was responsible for the reconstruction of the Upper Pinakothek after World War II. While other architects advocated total demolition and reconstruction, he drafted a reconstruction plan that returned the building to its original state with scarce resources.

Although Dollgast did not have international fame as an architect, his work and influence on the reconstruction of the High Pinakothek were considered a masterpiece. Dollgast had a modest career as an architect and in the 1930s became an academic and taught at the Technical University of Munich. Prior to that, he designed an urbanization in collaboration with Peter Behrens and participated in the construction of churches.

Renovation of the High Pinakothek in Munich

For renovations between 2014 and 2017, some parts of the museum were closed and the artwork and paintings were not open to the public.

The renovation of these different spaces has greatly enhanced the beauty of the museum. So if you haven’t seen the new look of High Pinakothek yet, you’ve missed something.

Famous collections of the High Pinakothek in Munich

The Alte Pinakothek is under the supervision of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. This organization continues to be responsible for a wide variety of collections of thousands of European paintings from different centuries.

The Alte Pinakothek only houses collections from the 14th to the 18th centuries, while those from the 19th century can be found in the Neue Pinakothek. Contemporary exhibitions, on the other hand, are in the Pinakothek der Moderne.

The Alte Pinakothek is rich in many works of art from the early days. These include collections from Italy, the Old Netherlands, Old Germany, France, Spain, Flemish schools, and more. The Alte Pinakothek can be called arguably the most important gallery in Germany and probably the most important in the world.

Albrecht Dürer and Rubens are just two names from 1500 whose paintings are on display in the museum. In fact, the Alte Pinakothek has more paintings by Rubens than any other gallery in Europe.
Dürer, Altdorfer, Grunewald, Holbein are the dominant German names in the exhibitions, while Dutch painters are represented by Rembrandt, Bosch, Bouts.

The Flemish collections feature masterpieces by Memling and van Dyck, while the Italian collections shine with works by Da Vinci, Giotto and Tintoretto.

In total, the collections of the Alte Pinakothek include more than 800 works of art and paintings. Due to lack of space, more paintings have been moved to other Bavarian galleries.


A traditional tour of the Upper Pinakothek will teach you a lot about the artwork on display. I promise you will have a great time on one of my excursions. what are you waiting for?


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