Berlin Academy of the Arts building reopens
TWIG - The new main building of Berlin’s Academy of the Arts was opened last weekend at a ceremony that paid tribute to the role artists play as voices of dissent in German society. Construction of the 56 million Eur building, on its original site in the heart of Berlin, had stretched to ten years as planners struggled to find the money to fund the massive complex.
The ceremony, attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Horst Koehler, and other dignitaries, continued a month-long series of commemorations of the end of World War II.
"We all carry a special responsibility, one that we all must remain conscious of. Painters, sculptors, and authors all emigrated, were persecuted, arrested, tortured and murdered," Schroeder said, calling the Nazi persecution of artists during the Third Reich "a huge wound in the history of the Academy."
Schroeder appealed to the Academy’s 370 international members, calling on them to play an active role in German political life. "You members, all free and intelligent people, have to get involved. They do it with words and with their works. That is an inestimable win for all of us, for our country," Schroeder said.
Academy president Adolf Musch put it most simply when he said that this new Academy of Arts is at "eye-level with power," referring to both the importance of artists’ voices in German society and to the building’s prominent location within view of the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and the Chancellery.
The building is flanked by Berlin’s famous Hotel Adlon and the Frank Gehry-designed DG Bank building.
Academy member Guenter Behnisch included sections of the destroyed Wilhelmine structure into his modern concept, which includes a stunning glass façade facing the street.
The building, many critics have noted, adds lightness and a transparency that many of the other buildings in the area lack.
The original Academy was opened in 1683 by Prussian King Frederick I. Among its many prominent members were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, artist Kaethe Kollwitz, and the authors Heinrich und Thomas Mann.
Painter Max Liebermann served as president of the Academy beginning in the 1920s through 1932, when Nazis forced its closure and Liebermann, a Jew, stepped down from his office. The building was heavily damaged during the war.
Today, the Academy of the Arts promotes artistic exploration in
sculpture, music, literature, theater, and film, in addition to the fine
arts. It has been managed under the auspices of the federal government since
January, 2004, when Germany pledged to support its activities with an annual
amount of 17.8 million Eur ($22 million).
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