The selectable maps and aerial photographs below illustrate data related to Alte Nationalgalerie. The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) in Berlin is a gallery showing a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork, part of the Berlin National Gallery, which in turn is part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It is the original building of the National Gallery, whose holdings are now housed in several additional buildings. It is situated on Museum Island, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
The first impetus to founding a national gallery came in 1815. The idea gained momentum during the 1830s, but without an actual building. In 1841 the first real plans were created. These plans never made it out of the planning stages, but finally in 1861 the National Gallery was founded, after banker Johann Heinrich Wagener donated 262 paintings by both German and foreign artists. This donation formed the basis of the current collection. The collection was first known as Wagenersche und Nationalgalerie (Wagener and National Gallery) and was housed in the buildings of the Akademie der Künste. The current building, shaped like a Roman temple with an appended apse, was designed by Friedrich August Stüler and after his death, realised in detail under Carl Busse.
Building and related developments
Friedrich August Stüler began working on a design for the building in 1863, based on a sketch by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Two years and two failed plans later, his third proposal was finally accepted. Stüler died before planning was completed and Carl Busse handled the remaining details in 1865. In 1866, by order of the king and his cabinet, the Kommission für den Bau der Nationalgalerie (Commission for the construction of the national gallery) was created. Ground was broken in 1867 under the supervision of Heinrich Strack. In 1872 the structure was completed and interior work began. The opening took place on March 22, 1876 in the presence of the Kaiser.
Because of the building's modern construction using brick and iron, it was widely believed to be fireproof. The exterior and outer staircase were constructed of Triassic sandstone from Nebra. At the opening the collection was still relatively small. Next to Wagener's collection, originally, was a display of cartoons by Peter von Cornelius that had been bequeathed to the Prussian government. The initial objective of the gallery was to collect contemporary, primarily Prussian art, as Berlin did not then have any repository of modern art.
In 1874 Max Jordan became the first director of the National Gallery. In 1896 he was succeeded by Hugo von Tschudi, who acquired Impressionist works, risking conflict with the Kaiser because this ended the collection's focus on German art.