Art Museum Lenbachhaus Reopened
Text: Peter Popp
A carefully restored Lenbachhaus with a new golden extension was reopened on 8 May 2013 after four years of conversion by Lord Norman Foster.
Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: Luisenstr. 33, 80333 Munich, Germany
The main challenge of the architectural design lay in retention of the external appearance of the historic, U-shaped ensemble, composed of Lenbach villa, studio building and gallery wing. The listed garden and historic Lenbach rooms were also to remain untouched.
The original access route through the garden and up a flight of steps leading to the villa no longer met the requirements of a contemporary museum attracting increasing numbers of visitors. A further key requirement was therefore to provide barrier-free access.
A fundamental reorganisation of the rather confusing prevailing spatial structuring – both in terms of interior space and in an urban development context – was also urgently needed.
Foster removed a two-storey extension dating back to the early 70s and replaced it with a three-storey rectangular structure. The new entrance to Lenbachhaus is located at the interface between the new extension and Lenbach studio, leading visitors into an atrium lobby from where the various parts of the collection can be reached. Another special feature of the atrium is the incorporation of a section of the now exposed and renovated external studio façade: the old sculptural structure is articulated within the new.
The location of the atrium has shifted the orientation of Lenbachhaus towards a newly created open space with a view of the Propylaea and the Königsplatz. Visitors coming from the museum district, the city centre or the main railway station, are now received with a welcoming gesture. The reorganisation has also resulted in closer proximity of "Kunstbau", a subterranean exhibition hall associated to Lenbachhaus.
The ground floor of the new construction by Foster + Partners is completely transparent and oriented towards the new piazza. A restaurant, accessible from inside and outside the premises, also opens up to this landscaped space. This floor moreover accommodates a large room for lectures or seminars, as well as the museum's very first shop, located in a long and narrow tract at the back of the villa.
Post-1945 art is presented directly above on the first floor, while the impressive "Der Blaue Reiter" (Blue Rider) collection is given an adequate setting in a newly created second floor.
8 May – 12 May 2013: 10 am – 10 pm
8 May – 30 September 2013: 10 am – 8 pm daily, except Mondays
1 October 2013 onwards: 10 am – 6 pm daily, except Mondays
Day ticket: 10 € / concessions 5 € (incl. German and English audio guide)
Annual ticket: 20 € / concessions 10 €