The Neue Galerie is the most specialized museum along Museum Mile, focusing on the creative output of German and Austrian artists and designers in the early twentieth-century art. The early twentieth-century was a complicated time for German culture and the art produced in the years surrounding the World Wars is key to understanding the period. Where other collections of Modern art have a token Klee or minor Kandinsky, these artists and their contemporaries are at the center of the Neue.
To every age its art. To every art its freedom.
What You Will See
The Neue is a serious place displaying serious for serious visitors. The permanent collection is an impressive variety of paintings from Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Otto Dix and other German/Austrian/Swiss artists. Supplementing the paintings, and giving the impressive mansion a sense of home is a large collection of furniture and flatware reflecting by German designers of the same period. Temporary exhibits rotate into the galleries periodically and either highlight the work of a single artist, reshuffle the permanent collection or explore other media like graphic design or decorative arts. But most everyone comes here for the Klimt--at the time of its acquisition, it was the most-expensive painting every sold.
Why You Should Go
Modern German art does not share the general popularity of French impressionists, Spanish surrealists or even American modernist. Beyond seeing the Klimt, a visit to the Neue allows you to contrast works originating in early twentieth-century Germany with the rest of the world. Reflect on how these artistic movements would have developed without the interruptions of war and conflict. See the cultural counter-arguments to the rise of National Socialism. It is a niche worthy of exploration. Supplement the art with a meal at the ever-popular Cafe Sabarsky and a tour of the immaculate mansion for a day immersed in pre-war German culture.