Gallery of Old & New Masters Schwerin, Germany

Gallery of Old & New Masters Schwerin(German: Museum Schwerin Galerie Alte und Neue Meister, Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow) represents the artistic memory and foundation for the cultural identity of the Federal State (Land) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Its locations, consisting of the Gallery of Old and New Masters Schwerin and the three residential castles and palaces in Schwerin, Ludwigslust and Güstrow, reflect the history of the land extending back more than 1,000 years, with treasures of international renown from antiquity to the present day on display there. As an official institution, it belongs to the Federal State (Land) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The collections of the Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow are presented in the Staatsgalerie Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin as well as in Schwerin Castle and in the two former royal castles Güstrow and Ludwigslust. Today, they encompass more than 100,000 works of art: paintings, works on paper, sculptures made of wood, terracotta, stone, metal and papier mâché, coins and medals, weapons, handicrafts made of glass, porcelain, ivory and metal, furniture and modern objects and installations , In addition to the core collection of Ancient Art, there is also a special focus on contemporary art, which is the subject of special attention in the gallery Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin as well as in the commercial building of Schloss Güstrow.

The heart of the stock of artistic items can be traced back to Mecklenburg’s ducal collection, which originally served to represent the princely powers at that time. This representational aspect now only occurs to a partial extent. Today, the museum’s activities consists of academic and artistic research, as well as safeguarding and exhibiting the artworks – in fulfilment of the museum’s official responsibility to promote cultural education.

Duke Christian Ludwig II loved art, collecting and buying it where it was booming during his lifetime: in Holland and Flanders. Thus the heart of our stock of paintings consists of an exquisite collection of Dutch and Flemish works from the so-called “Golden Age”. Famous masters such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Paulus Potter, Frans van Mieris the Elder, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens and Carel Fabritius permit us to have highly varied insights into life in the 17th century and attest to the high painting culture at that time.

Some of the eminent pieces in the collection from the 18th and 19th centuries consist of works by the French animal painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry, who painted especially for the Versailles and Marly castles, together with works from artistic centres such as in Berlin or Dresden, from Antoine Pesne and Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich among others.

In a cabinet room on the first floor, Baroque art pieces made of ivory are on display. The ground floor is reserved for art of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as for alternating special exhibitions. Schwerin’s Marcel Duchamp collection, which with 90 pieces is unique in terms of its completeness, covers almost all of the phases and aspects of the artist who, alongside Picasso, was one of the most decisive inspirers of art in the 20th century. This collection is supplemented with pieces by John Cage, Sigmar Polke, Rachel Whiteread and Icke Winzer. Since August 2013, the gallery has housed the sole collection in northern Germany of works by Günther Uecker.

A piece of art only becomes consummate on being viewed. For which reason, our mission consists of attracting as many people as possible to and guiding them through the artworks on display here, in order on the one hand to consummate art, while bringing the visitors in contact with the intrinsic power of art on the other hand. Thus it is also our task to provide and facilitate access to an understanding of art for all sections of society in line with their specific knowledge and needs.

The gallery Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin of the Staatliches Museum is an art museum in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Commissioned by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1823-1883), the new museum was opened in 1882. The architect Hermann Willebrand (1816-1899), a pupil of Friedrich August Stüler, designed the then technically groundbreaking new museum building according to the most modern aspects. Located directly on Lake Schwerin and the Old Garden, the gallery – together with Schwerin Castle, the State Theater, the State Chancellery and the Old Palace – is one of the few completely preserved historic sites in Germany.

Each year, about 300,000 visitors come to the collections and exhibitions in the Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow. Doing so, not only are they affirming their interest in the art and culture of the land, but also the great importance of art itself. Together with the Baltic Sea and the regional scenery, its art and culture represent the hallmark of the Federal State (Land) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The history of the museum roughly corresponds to the history of the collection. Duke Christian Ludwig II (Mecklenburg) (1683-1756) was the first step towards a well-known collection of paintings. As an avid art collector, he acquired numerous works of art on his travels in Germany and abroad. His interest was not only purely representative art, but devoted himself to the high-quality old and new masters, while in most German princely houses purely summary accumulation was common. 1725 Christian Ludwig II was already in possession of about 120 paintings and graphics of Dutch masters of the 17th century. Much of this accumulated until then works was destroyed in the same year in the fire at Grabow Castle. Christian Ludwig II, however, was determined to establish an important collection of paintings for Mecklenburg. When he resided in Schwerin Castle ten years later, in 1736 he had a first gallery built in the form of a two-storey half-timbered building. This year is considered today as the year of foundation of the Schwerin art collections. Acquisitions in the largest European art centers bought art for the Schwerin art collections.

Christian Ludwig II also bought himself in the artists’ studios, for example Adriaen von Ostade or Jan van Huysum. Christian Ludwig’s son Friedrich (1717-1785) and his nephews also collected on a grand scale. Thus, the ducal collection was around 1750 an important enrichment by Friedrich, who acquired about 56 colored drawings and 43 paintings (34 of which are still preserved) of the French animal painter Jean Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755). In its unity and size, the collection represents the world’s largest collection of works by the French animal painter. 1792 already 695 paintings were listed in the inventory of the ducal collection and were distributed in an exhibition on 21 rooms and cabinets. It is thanks to Christian Ludwigs predilection for Dutch painting that the Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow now has one of the most extensive reference collections of Dutch painting in Germany.

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz I (1756-1837) structured the wealth of art treasures for the first time in a new administrative form and appointed Friedrich Christoph Georg Lenthe (1774-1851) as the first gallery director. This structured and systematized the collection for the first time in scientific terms. It was the idea of a publicly accessible gallery, but failed due to the lack of financial resources. Later, when Schwerin in 1837 under Grand Duke Paul Friedrich (1800-1842) to the residential city and thus also became a center of cultural life, there were numerous alterations in the entire city. The castle was rebuilt in 1845 and the ducal gallery in half-timbered construction had to find another place. First, the art collection was housed in two houses in the Alexandrinenstrasse in Paulsstadt and opened in December 1845 for the first time and from then on regularly for the public. During this time, the profile of the Grand Ducal Art Collection changed. The director of the Grand Ducal Art Collection, Eduard Prosch, influenced by archeology, took a more retrogressive approach to the expansion of the collection and exchanged valuable collections. He built in 1869 on a collection of plaster casts antique jams, which eventually covered more than 300 pieces and was delivered in 1919 to the Institute of Ancient Studies at the University of Rostock.

Due to the early death of Paul Friedrich, existing plans of Georg Adolph Demmler (1804-1886) did not reach completion for a museum building. Thus, the plans for a museum construction rested for 40 years, until Grand Duchess Alexandrine (1803-1892), the wife of Paul Friedrich, funds from the reparations payments of the won war 1870-1871 against France to the building of the museum donated. The building was designed by the architect Hermann Willebrand (1816-1899). The opening of the new museum building took place on October 22, 1882. The director of the new Grand Ducal Museum was Friedrich Schlie (1839-1902), who had set up an extensive permanent exhibition and had compiled a comprehensive catalog of paintings for the opening of the house. Schlie designed the permanent exhibition according to the principles of perceptual, holistic and aesthetic understanding. His successor was (until 1911) the later founding director of the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, Ernst Steinmann.

In the course of the November Revolution, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV (Mecklenburg) was forced to abdicate on November 14, 1918. The collection became the property of the state and the Grand Ducal Museum became a national museum. The gallery at the Old Garden continued to house the paintings, the graphic collections and the “Mecklenburg Antiquities”. The rich artisan stocks and the Münzkabinett were transferred to the Schwerin Castle and a castle museum in the former private rooms of the ducal family furnished. Thus, the Old Garden with Castle and Castle Museum, the gallery and the State Theater became a representative and impressive cultural center in Germany. Walter Josephi, director of the art collections since 1911, compiled extensive collection guides according to the latest art historical findings. Josephi strove, contrary to its predecessor, an open and modern collection strategy. In the spirit of the Mecklenburg dukes, he also turned to contemporary artists and acquired in 1926 important works by Franz von Stuck, Rudolf Bartels, Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, Carl Schuch and Wilhelm Trübner.

With the seizure of power of the National Socialists and the associated movement of degenerate art, significant works of the Schwerin collection were lost. With the establishment of a uniform factory in the gallery in 1943, the museum work finally came to a standstill. With the outbreak of the war, important art works of the art collection were outsourced for security reasons and partly spent in the salt mine Grasleben, in the basement of Schwerin Castle, in mansions and vaults. Towards the end of the war, well into the year 1945, the castle served as a military hospital and the gallery continued to serve as a uniform factory and shelter for refugees. In 1945, the gallery at the Old Garden has already been reopened.

The gallery Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin is known for the top collection of Dutch and Flemish painting of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Ernst Barlach Foundation Bölkow and the Schwerin collection Marcel Duchamp. Changing special exhibitions of old and contemporary art complete the exhibition. The Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow is the art historical memory of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. At its museum sites in Mecklenburg, it reflects the more than 1000-year history of the country and is also responsible for the cultural development and identity of the country. The collection today includes more than 100,000 objects, paintings, sculptures and prints, handicrafts, coins and medals.

The Staatliche Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow has one of the most impressive collection of paintings from the 15th century to the present. The heart of the collection is the Flemish and Dutch art of the 17th century. The dukes of Mecklenburg acquired artworks from old masters who are famous worldwide today, thus laying the basis of the collection.

Treasures by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Paulus Potter, Adriaen van Ostade, Frans van Mieris the Elder or Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens or Carel Fabritius give differentiated insights into the art of the time and bear witness to the world-class museum.
Since October 2013, the extensive Schwerin collection has been further enriched with 155 new Dutch and Flemish paintings which were donated by Christoph Müller.

The world’s largest collections by the French animal painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry, works from centres of arts like Berlin or Dresden, Antoine Pesne and Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich among others, and a magnificent full-length portrait of Queen Charlotte from the studio of Thomas Gainsborough are just a few highlights of the significant collection of 18th century.

The art of the 19th century is represented by the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, the portrait painter François Gérard and renowned artists from Mecklenburg and court painters from this period.

Schwerin’s Marcel Duchamp collection, which with 90 pieces is unique in terms of its completeness, covers almost all of the phases and aspects of the artist who, alongside Picasso, was one of the most decisive inspirers of art in the 20th century. In addition, well-known artists such as Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, Franz von Stuck, Alexej von Jawlensky and Pablo Picasso show the art movements of the early 20th century.

Art after 1960 and contemporary art is supplemented with pieces by John Cage, Sigmar Polke, Rachel Whiteread, Daniel Spoerri, François Morellet, artist of the Leipzig School and Mecklenburg.

Since August 2013, the gallery has housed the sole collection in northern Germany of works by Günther Uecker. The acquisition of a private collection for the Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow proved possible thanks to the generous support from the German Federal Government Representative for Culture and Media (BKM), together with the Sparkasse Mecklenburg-Schwerin savings bank, as well as through funding from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Ministry for Education, Science and Culture.

The Staatliche Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow also has a collection of sculptures. Exceptional pieces of the Middle Ages, busts by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, and sculptures by the Dresden court sculptor Balthasar Permoser are exemplary for the approximately 700 works extensive sculpture collection.

Since 1999, the museum houses fifteen bronze sculptures by Ernst Barlach. The industrialist Ludwig Bolkow, born in Schwerin, presented them to the museum. The Barlach-Stiftung Bölkow thus allows insights into the work of the important German sculptor.

Cabinet of Prints
Drawings, graphic prints, illustrated books, posters, books by artists, paper objects, printing blocks and printing plates – representing a diverse collection on a European ranking – are housed in the Cabinet of Prints.

Works by Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer, an excellent ornamental engravings collection, as well as more than four thousand graphics from Dutch artists in the 16th and 17th century, including almost the complete graphic-print oeuvre of Adriaen van Ostade, reflect the convincing mastery and thematic range to be found here. The 168 etchings by the famous Rembrandt represent a highly valuable highlight within the Golden Age collection from the Dutchman. With 42 pastels and study sheets from the French painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry, a unique collection worldwide from this famous 18th century artist is held in Schwerin.
German masters can be found here who rank among the internationally esteemed engravers and drawers, including for instance Johann Alexander Thiele, Jacob Philipp Hackert and Daniel Chodowiecki.

The graphic works from the 20th century include lithographs from Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, sheets from Max Slevogt, Walter Gramatte and Johannes Wüsten, as well as works by the Expressionists Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde and Max Pechstein. The graphic prints from Käthe Kollwitz represent one focus of the collection from the first half of the 20th century.

After 1945, the contemporary graphics created by artists in communist East Germany dominated, with coloured graphic works, drawings by sculptors and books by artists being acquired at that time. In 1989, new opportunities arose to acquire pieces by internationally relevant artists, such as Robert Delaunay, Alberto Giacometti, Hermann Glöckner, John Cage and Marcel Duchamp.

The Cabinet of Prints is open to the public, permitting visitors to observe and study graphic works in detail.

Artisanal Objets D’art
The artisanal objets d’art collections in the Staatliches Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow are characterised by their craftsmanship and diversity. Created as a result of the ducal interest in art, today they include far in excess of 10,000 objects ranging from antiquity to the present. The precious items made of gold and silver, ivory, amber, mother-of-pearl, wax, cork, glass and iron provide an indication not only of the wide range of applications for these materials, but also the high regard that the former dukes had for art.

The collection of Meissen porcelain from the 18th century, accounting for approximately five hundred pieces in the extensive stock of ceramic items – consisting of antique pottery, faience, porcelain, stoneware and earthenware – are regarded as being among the most prestigious treasures in the museum.

Likewise, the furniture and other such items attest to the various stylistic currents of their eras, and in turn to the artisanal innovations linked to them. Items such as weapons and clocks are characterised not only by their precise execution, but also by their use of the latest technical advances.

Taking the formative eras when the various structural ensembles were completed as their basis, various works of applied art are on display in the palaces of Schwerin, Ludwigslust and Güstrow; many of them are linked to personalities from the ducal family and can be viewed in their original locations.
Furthermore, special exhibitions with specific groups of works from this abundant store of items are held in the Gallery of Old & New Masters in Schwerin.

Coin Cabinet
More than 32,000 coins and medals are preserved in the Coin Cabinet. They come from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period (the 10th century to the present). They primarily consist of items which were produced in Mecklenburg, resulting in the cabinet having the most complete collection of such mintages not only in Germany but even worldwide. These are complemented in this numismatic chamber by a varied set of German and European coins. In addition, the cabinet has a selection of orders, decorations and badges of honour. Likewise, its collection of stamps and letters from Mecklenburg (with extremely rare postmarks on them) from 1749 to 1867 is also singular – and has become known and celebrated among philatelists as the “Mahncke Collection” after Fritz Mahncke.

Mecklenburg’s coins and its history is on display in Güstrow Palace. Medals are shown in the palaces of Schwerin and Ludwigslust.

Visits to the Coin Cabinet can be arranged by advance booking with PD Torsten Fried.

Gallery of Old & New Masters:
Old Masters
Duke Christian Ludwig II loved art, collecting and buying it where it was booming during his lifetime: in Holland and Flanders. Thus the heart of our stock of paintings consists of an exquisite collection of Dutch and Flemish works from the so-called “Golden Age”. Famous masters such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Paulus Potter, Frans van Mieris the Elder, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens and Carel Fabritius permit us to have highly varied insights into life in the 17th century and attest to the high painting culture at that time.

Some of the eminent pieces in the collection from the 18th and 19th centuries consist of works by the French animal painter Oudry, who painted especially for the Versailles and Marly castles, together with works from artistic centres such as in Berlin or Dresden, from Antoine Pesne and Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich among others.
In a cabinet room on the first floor, Baroque art pieces made of ivory are on display.

New Masters
A glass bridge connects the original building from 1882 with the new building opened in 2016 – both architecturally and contextually: In the old and new buildings, the developments in art from the early 20th century through to those from our contemporaries can be experienced in their complexity: With earlier works from Lovis Corinth, Lyonel Feininger, Marcel Duchamp, Nam June Paik, Bernhard Heisig and Sigmar Polke among others taking the visitors through the contemporary installations, videos and objects in the old building. While in the new building, these are represented by Ulrike Rosenbach, Aernout Mik and Jörg Herold among others. One spectacular exhibition here consists of the collection by the artist Günther Uecker, who was born in 1930 in in Mecklenburg.

Schwerin Palace:
The representative historic Schwerin Castle is a landmark of Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In addition to the present seat of the state parliament, there is also a museum looking back on a long tradition in the halls and rooms. In this art objects are mainly exposed, but also paintings, for example, the ancestral gallery of the Duchy. 19th-century furniture, porcelain figurines and animal sculptures adorn the splendid halls of the castle. From the historical weapon collection of the state museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow today predominantly hunting and pomp weapons are exhibited in lock Schwerin, among them outstanding certificates of European and Mecklenburg weapon technology, manufactured with high handicraft claim.

Set in a picturesque location on an island with a charming landscaped lake and park, this sumptuous stately building was constructed in the Romantic Historicism style, inspired by models from Germany and the French castles along the Loire. The magnificent residence was the result of remodelling and reconstruction work done in the mid-19th century to an older castle complex, the origins of which can be traced back to the Slavic era.

Today it is houses the castle museum, as well as the State Parliament (Landtag) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

A ramble through the living quarters and socialising chambers of the grand duke and his wife is comparable to a foray into the history of the princely court The portraits of all the dukes from the 14th to the 18th century in the ancestral portrait gallery provide an impressive display of the long tradition of rule enjoyed by the princely dynasty in Mecklenburg. Furnished and fitted out in an extravagantly rich style, the throne room impresses as the most important location of the state’s political representation and is the highlight in the magnificent ducal living area.

The sets of rooms on the piano nobile floor and the festivity floor provide a refined ambience for selected art pieces from the 17th to the 19th century: With furniture items from the age of Historicism, as well as sculptures and paintings by major artists such as Christian Daniel Rauch, Wilhelm von Schadow or Franz Krüger.

An extensive collection of ducal hunting and ceremonial weapons are exhibited in the imposing armoury, with the stain-glass windows bestowing an almost sacral aura on it. The former ducal children’s room houses an extensive collection of precious porcelain from the world renowned Meissen and Berlin manufactories especially. Princely silverware can be admired in the Silver Chamber.

In 2014, the Residence Ensemble Schwerin was added to the list of applicants to become a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

Ludwigslust Palace:
Since 1986, the castle Ludwigslust belongs to the State Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow. and is gradually being developed for visitors to museums. Fireplaces, mirrors and supports, parquet floors and chandeliers as well as ornaments and decorations from Ludwigsluster Carton (papier mâché) have been preserved from the original furnishings, giving the impression of authenticity. The historical, artistic and intellectual historical dimension of courtly residency, life and princely collecting passion can be experienced in the castle. The aim of the museum in the castle is to give “a broad public audience comprehensive insight into life and artistic work at the Mecklenburg court in the 18th and early 19th centuries.”

This Baroque palace which was built from 1772 to 1776 served as the main residence for Duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Duke Friedrich Franz I. The palace forms the centrepiece to a late Baroque town, together with the former court church and one of the most beautiful English landscape parks, making it unique in northern Germany.

A visit to Ludwigslust Palace soon becomes a voyage of discovery into the courtly art and culture from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can now experience the newly planned rooms in the reopened east wing, including the Golden Hall, the Ducal Audience Chamber, the Picture Gallery, the bedroom and living area of the dukes on the first floor, as well as the guest apartments on the second floor. The lavishly restored rooms have been completed with art pieces once found in Ludwigslust palace during the various ducal eras. Paintings by court painters such as Georg David Matthieu, Johann Dietrich Findorff, Johann Heinrich and Rudolph Suhrlandt, the menagerie series by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, as well as the ducal clock collection, cork models and furniture from the end of the 18th century are on display at those locations to which they were once connected through the two regents Friedrich and Friedrich Franz I together with their wives.

Restoration of the rooms in the west wing of the palace will start 2017, including the impressive Duchess Apartment and the living quarters with their classical style used by Alexandrine of Prussia. The west wing is not open to the public during the restoration work.

Güstrow Palace:
Since 1972, the castle Güstrow one of the branches of the State Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow. Güstrow Castle is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe. Various works of art from the Middle Ages to the present find their place here. These include in the field of sacred art of the late Gothic Neustädter altar of the Master of the Jacobean, but also hunting and pompous weapons, paintings, sculptures and various glass exhibits. Schloss Güstrow is also enriched by a versatile concept of special exhibitions. Special exhibitions of contemporary art or the great GDR collection are regularly presented in the outbuilding of the castle.

At the edge of Güstrow’s old town, this Renaissance palace of European ranking surprises with its southern European charm.

The vaulted rooms of the basement are home to one of the most important medieval collections in northern German. Altars, sculptures and altar decorations from the churches, convents and monasteries in Mecklenburg are on display here. The collection is characterised by its regional coherence, as well as its outstanding individual objects. Among other pieces, the apparently oldest preserved statute of Madonna in Mecklenburg can be found here, together with one of the largest and most important double-winged altars in northern Germany: the former high altar from St. James’ Church in Lübeck. Precious art chamber items and ducal hunting and ceremonial weapons attest to the splendid furnishings and adornments of courtly life. The Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculptures and furnishings in the former dining hall, residential and reception rooms give new life to the glamour of the one-time ducal seat. Among the outstanding European pieces on display here are works by Cranach, Maerten de Vos and Tintoretto.

The history of the Güstrow line of the Mecklenburg dynasty is illustrated with ducal portraits. Moreover, an exhibition of Italian art conveys an image of the Renaissance and early Baroque world south of the Alps.

Alternating exhibitions with positions in art from the 20th and 21st century are on display in the service building from the 19th century with its remarkable architecture – complementing the range of exhibitions to be found here.

Today, the State Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow consists of the gallery Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin, Castle Schwerin, Castle Ludwigslust and Castle Güstrow. The collection of four houses includes more than 100,000 paintings, prints, coins, weapons, wood sculptures, porcelain and metal works of art and much more. The timeframe of the artworks extends from antiquity to the 21st century.

More space for the art after 1945 offers since the summer of 2016, the 800 square meter extension of the gallery Alte & Neue Meister Schwerin. In addition, a new museum yard was created to relax and linger.