Academy of Arts at Hanseatenweg in Berlin-Tiergarten
The Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste) is the oldest and arguably most prestigious cultural institution in Germany. As a public corporation, it has a federal arts advisory function with a mission to support and foster the Arts. Today's glass-façade building designed by Stuttgart architect Günter Behnisch was re-located on its original site, the Pariser Platz. The transparent façade was purposely and symbolically placed in front of the surviving remains of the painting halls from the original academy.
History of the Academy of Arts
The Academy was founded as the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1696 by King Frederick I as an academic institution and an intellectual forum for the exchange of ideas amongst artists and scholars. The original building, a private residence from 1734, became the home of Count Arnim-Boitzenburg in 1858. Acquired by the Prussian treasury in 1902 it was converted into the Academy of Arts from 1904 to 1906 by architect Ernst von Ihne. Its prestigious members have included Wolfgang von Goethe, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Bertolt Brecht and Max Liebermann headed the institution in the 1920s when the Academy developed its Literature section.
Like many cultural institutions it fell into the hands of the Nazis who disbanded it in 1937, requisitioning the building which became the Nazi's Generalbaudirektion (Head Office of Construction). Albert Speer – Hitler's architect – used it as his headquarters to model and redesign Berlin into Nazi visionary "Germania" as the capital of the German Reich.
Academy of Arts in the post-war period
WWII bombs only left the exhibition halls intact burning its Pariser Platz wing entirely. During the GDR years it was turned into a print and photographic workshop known as the "Werkstätten für Druck und Fotografie". Like many other Berlin institutions during the Cold War it developed two branches its western and the eastern equivalent. The German Academy of Arts was founded on the Robert-Koch-Straße in East Berlin in 1950 and West Berlin responded with the West Berlin Academy of Arts in 1954 housed in the Hanseatenweg in Tiergarten.
Events at the Academy of Arts
In 1993 the East Berlin and the West Berlin branch merged into one all-German Academy of Arts. The institution hosts a diverse range of events such as exhibitions, concerts, readings, theatre and dance performances, film screenings and radio drama presentations, conferences, symposia, panel discussions and colloquia. On behalf of the City of Berlin the Academy awards the Berliner Kunstpreis (Berlin Art Prize) and a range of other awards.