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T+L Reports: Museum Milestone

Munich's new Pinakothek der Moderne, designed by Stephan Braunfels, is not likely to find itself on postcards. A rectangular box with a façade of concrete, glass, and steel, it nestles inconspicuously next to the city's two other great art museums, the Alte Pinakothek (old-master paintings) and the Neue Pinakothek (19th-century works), completing an art campus that has few rivals in Europe. But the drama is all on the inside.

From a central soaring rotunda, a sweeping staircase leads to white-walled galleries that contain what is already one of Europe's finest holdings of 20th- and 21st-century artworks, all organized with an eye to creating "dialogues" and "focal points" rather than a rigid overview. German masters, from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann to Josef Beuys and Gerhard Richter, command considerable attention, but there are also outstanding contributions by Picasso, Matisse, Magritte, Francis Bacon, Jasper Johns, Dan Flavin, and Andy Warhol. Prominence is given to the donations of Sofie and Emanuel Fohn, two German collectors who, in 1938, courageously began buying modern innovators whom the Nazis had banned as "degenerate."

Interplay is the keynote—in the mix of natural and artificial light and in the presence of three other collections devoted to works on paper, architecture, and design. In 1904, Wilhelm von Borscht, mayor of Munich, proposed building a showplace for modern art in one of Europe's most culturally conservative cities. After a long and tortuous effort, Munich finally granted him his wish, and when the new museum opened its doors last fall, more than 300,000 visitors showed up in the first week. 40 Barer Str.; 49-89/2380-5360.

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