Art museum

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National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

An art museum is a public or private museum in which works of art by one or more artists are collected, archived and exhibited . Many state art museums conduct art historical research and endeavor to restore works of art.

Art museum types

Exhibition building of the Tartu Art Museum in Tartu , Estonia

In its museum statistics, the Berlin Institute for Museum Studies counts as belonging to art museums, museums with the following collection areas: art and architecture , handicrafts , ceramics , church treasures and church art, film , photography .

If an art museum only deals with the oeuvre of a single artist, it is referred to as an artists' museum . An art museum that only collects and exhibits paintings is also known as a pinakothek or picture gallery . Under gallery but mostly a showroom for art objects is understood at the present time. In contrast to an art museum, a gallery is used to sell the works on display to public or private collectors. There is no legal protection for the term art museum, so everyone can use this term.


In the Middle Ages, church institutions collected valuable liturgical devices and works of art. The collected objects form the basis for today's cathedral treasure museums. European princely houses have been putting together art collections since the 14th century. Early forms can be found in the 18th century mainly as princely collections, art and rarities cabinets.

Kunstmuseum Basel , since 1661 it has housed the oldest publicly accessible art collection in Europe

In 1661, when a wealthy patron donated the Amerbach Cabinet to the city of Basel, the first public art collection in Europe was established, which was to lay the foundation for what would later become the Basel Art Museum , the largest and most important museum of its kind in Switzerland . An important foundation stone was laid in Basel for so-called patronage, where wealthy and influential citizens of a city campaign for the benefit of the community either anonymously or under their full name for the promotion of art. The Age of Revolution and changes in civic orders from 1789 to 1830 resulted in a number of new museums and a reorientation in which art was viewed as the property of the nation, e.g. B. can be read from the history of the Louvre in Paris . With the rise of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, urban art collections emerged across Europe. Of particular note here is the case of the city of Berlin, where the established bourgeoisie, under the guidance of art historians , began to be interested in the then still new direction of Impressionism , and as a result of which numerous paintings and pictures subsequently came into the public domain.

The time frame from 1830 to 1880 ("museum age"), followed by modern art museums, is considered to be the actual founding period of art museums.

The following new museums were and are important from a museum and urban planning point of view: 1743 the Uffizi Gallery (Medici Collection) in Florence , 1775 the expansion of the Museo Pio-Clementino by Pius VI. (today in the Vatican Museums ), in 1800 the Musée Napoléon in Paris (today Musée du Louvre ), the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam , founded in 1808 but not provided with a museum until 1877/85 by the architect Pierre Cuypers , and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 1816 by Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria initiated, however, until 1830 by the architect Leo von Klenze completed Glyptotek in Munich , which was founded in 1817, provided with its own museum in 1878 Städel Art Institute , shortly Städel in Frankfurt , in 1819, the Museo del Prado in Madrid , in 1824, the Wallraf-Richartz -Museum in Cologne , the National Gallery in London , founded in 1824 but not built until 1832 to 1838 , the Alte Museum in Berlin built by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel from 1825 to 1828 , the Alte Pinakothek in Munich in 1836 , and the one from 1839 to 1852 also by Leo New Hermitage in Saint Petersburg built by Klenze .

This was followed by the Ferdinandeum Museum in Innsbruck from 1842 to 1845 , the Kunstmuseum Basel from 1844 to 1849 , the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, built from 1846 to 1853 according to plans by the architect Friedrich von Gärtner , the Kunsthalle Bremen , built from 1847 to 1849, and the Alte Meister in 1855 the Sempergalerie in Dresden , 1855 the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC , the Kunsthalle Hamburg , built from 1863 to 1869 , which opened in 1893, but the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, which dates back to 1851 .

1867-1876 was Nationalgalerie Berlin (now Old National Gallery ) built in Chicago followed in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago , 1879, the Kunstmuseum Bern , 1880, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York at its present location, in London in 1897, the Tate Gallery , the From 1898 to 1902 he built the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Folkwang Museum in Hagen in 1902 .

In Japan, the first art museum was opened in Tokyo in 1877 and designated with the specially created word "bijutsukan". Initially, it was a temporary sales exhibition for contemporary art based on the model of the Paris Salon. Institutions that not only exhibit but also collect art did not emerge in Japan until after the Second World War.

In the 20th century, new exhibition concepts develop, e.g. B. White Cube and art museum architecture based on it, in the 21st century up to the abandonment of premises as virtual art museums .


The Medici collected in Florence also next period art contemporary art and created with their purchases today's core of the Uffizi . The term gallery goes back to the arcade of the upper floor of the Uffizi, the galleria , to designate picture galleries and art museums.

Austria and the Czech Republic

Emperor Rudolf II (HRR) appeared in Prague as an important art collector and patron . His art collection is legendary and was the largest of its time. After the sack of Prague in 1648, it was scattered around the world. Part of this art collection now forms the basis of the Brueghel collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna .

Some of the works in the Rudolfinian collection remained in Prague and are now owned by the Prague Castle Picture Gallery and the Prague National Gallery , which was founded in 1796 by the Bohemian nobility as a picture gallery of the Society of Patriotic Friends of Art .


The Gemäldegalerie Düsseldorf , which was built between 1709 and 1712 and thus created an independent type of structure for the art museum, is to be regarded as the first independent gallery building.


As an absolutist ruler, Tsarina Catherine II founded the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg in 1764 .


The secularization of ecclesiastical properties initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte brought the art museums (e.g. Musée du Louvre ) an increase in art objects.

See also


Museum studies
  • Walter Grasskamp : Museum founder and museum striker. On the social history of the art museum . Beck, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-4060-6034-X .
  • James J. Sheehan : History of the German Art Museums. From the princely art chamber to the modern collection. Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-49511-7 . (Original title: Museums in the German Art World. Translator: Martin Pfeiffer).
  • Iain Chambers (Ed.): The postcolonial museum: the arts of memory and the pressures of history . Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey 2014, ISBN 978-147-241-567-7 .
Museum psychology
  • Martin Schuster (Hrsg.), Hildegard Ameln-Haffke (Hrsg.): Museum Psychology. Experience in the art museum . Hogrefe, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-8017-1682-1 .
Museum guide
  • AB Van Der Lans: European Museum Guide 2001: An Overview of the Most Prestigious Collections and Major Exhibitions in Europe . Gingko Press, 2001. ISBN 9-0753-3906-2

Web links

Wiktionary: Kunstmuseum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Overall statistical survey at the museums of the Federal Republic of Germany for the year 2010. (PDF; 685 kB) Berlin 2011, p. 18. ISSN  0931-7961 . (= Materials from the Institute for Museum Research. Issue 65). Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  2. 550 years of the University of Basel. Retrieved March 22, 2019 .
  3. Departure into the modern age. Retrieved April 13, 2019 .
  4. Japanese Museum Dreams. The newly built art gallery in Kobe presents the history of the museum in Japan. Newspaper article by Martin Ebner, first published: Die Tageszeitung , August 6, 2002. Accessed June 16, 2015.