Paintings Museum: Alte Pinakothek in Munich with famous masters

One of my favorite paintings museums in Bavaria is the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. It is an art museum that houses great painting collections from past centuries. If you are a lover of art like I am, you will definitely fall in love with everything about Alte Pinakothek.

The museum is not only one of the oldest in Europe, but it is also one of the oldest in the world. The name derived from century collections that the museum covers. Alte means old, while Pinakothek refers to collections that cover the span of the 14th to 18th centuries.

Alte Pinakothek is also a perfect venue for tourists in Bavaria. Personally, I like hosting a tour guide of this magnificent edifice. However, there are a lot of backstories you should know about Alte Pinakothek.

Year of Construction

In 1862, King Ludwig I of Bavaria gave an order to commence the construction of Alte Pinakothek. The city needed a building for famous artworks. These included canvasses painted by Rubens and artworks from the Wittelsbach family.

The construction of Alte Pinakothek at that point in time was the modern-day standard. Due to this, a lot of later built museums in Germany and other European nations modeled after the Alte Pinakothek.

Alte Pinakothek closed when World War II started in 1939. All the artworks stored away to prevent destruction. The idea was profitable as the building was extremely damaged during the war.

After War Reconstruction

After the war, a reconstruction of the building took place. It was then reopened in 1957 with president Theodor Heuss in attendance.

The reconstruction process was such that the new building did not look completely different from the previous one, especially the exterior features of the building. Also, to leave a mark of the damage caused by the world war as part of history, some holes on the exterior walls were not entirely fixed. Instead, they were filled with bricks.

Architects from Alte Pinakothek

After the order of King Ludwig, I, Leo Von Klenze (1784-1864) was the first architect to begin work on Alte Pinakothek. He studied building and architecture in Berlin, under the tutelage of Friedrich Gilly. From Berlin, he moved on to Paris where he worked as an apprentice under some masters.

Leo Von Klenze later came back to Germany, but this time he moved to  Bavaria. He began working for king Ludwig in 1816. He is responsible for buildings like the Monopteros temple and Konigsplatz. In 1862 he designed the architectural style for the famous Alte Pinakothek.

The second architect responsible for the reconstruction of Alte Pinakothek after the world war was Hans Dollgast (1891-1974). While other architects clamored for total destruction and rebuilding, he was smart enough to devise a plan for reconstruction to make the building just like its former state.

Even though Dollgast wasn’t internationally famous as an architect, his work and influence on the reconstruction of Alte Pinakothek were regarded as a masterpiece. He had a very modest architecture career. He worked with Peter Behrens to design a Munich housing estate. Around the 1930s, he became an academician, teaching at Munich’s Technical University. He also worked on the building of churches.

Alte Pinakothek Building Styles

After the first construction, the museum was not only the largest in the world, it had modernized architectural settings. One of its stand out feature was the Neo-Renaissance exterior that made it different from any other museum in that century. It was clearly one of a kind.

When Alte Pinakothek was opened to the public in 1836, a lot of people from far and near came to witness it. Hence other galleries and museums were modeled after it. They include Russian’s Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg, and other famous galleries in Italy, Belgium, etc.  

After the reconstruction in 1957, some interior features that existed prior to the war, like the ornate and the large loggia on the floor were not replaced. Gradually, remodeling also took place. In 2008 the walls in all the rooms on the upper ground of the building were covered. The material used for this was woven silk manufactured in Lyon.

An interior part of the building that has not been altered is the red and green colors used to design the walls in the room. These colors are traditional, right from the time of King Ludwig I, and this remains the same even in some of Europe’s famous galleries.

Famous Collections in the Alte Pinakothek

All activities of the Alte Pinakothek museum is under the regulations of the Bavarian State Painting Collections. This body is also responsible for a wide array of collections ranging to thousands of paintings in Europe, gathered from various centuries.

However, Alte Pinakothek only house collections from the 14th to 18th centuries. Collections from the 19th century are in the Neue Pinakothek museum. On the other hand, modern-day collections are housed in the Pinakothek der Moderne.

Alte Pinakothek is rich in a lot of early days’ artworks. These include collections from Italy, Old Netherlands, Old Germany, France, Spain, Flemish schools, etc. It is inarguably the most important gallery in Germany and arguably the most important in the world.

Some famous artists who have their paintings featured in the museum include. William IV, Albrecht Durer, and Rubens from the 1500s. Actually, Alte Pinakothek has more Ruben collections than any other gallery in Europe.

German Painters that dominate the gallery are Durer, Altdorfer, Grunewald, Holbein, etc. Dutch painters that have their works featured include Rembrandt, Bosch, Bouts, etc.

Some of the Flemish collections have works from Memling, van Dyck, etc. For the Italian collections, there are works from Da Vinci, Giotto, Tintoretto, etc.

The collections in Alte Pinakothek is over 800 artworks and paintings. As a matter of fact, the museum cannot contain all of them, hence more paintings were moved to other galleries in Bavaria.

Renovation of the Alte Pinakothek

The renovation 2014 closed some parts of the museum. This lasted till 2017. Subsequently, artworks and paintings were not available for viewing in that period.

The renovation of these parts added to the beauty of the museum. So, if you have not seen the new look of Alte Pinakothek, you are missing out on a lot.


One more important part is having a tour guide with in-depth knowledge on these artworks take you through Alte Pinakothek. I promise that you are going to have a great time with me on this tour. So what are you waiting for?

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