Hello World. Revising a Collection is a critical inquiry into the collection of the Nationalgalerie and its predominantly Western focus: What could the collection look like today, had an understanding characterised its concept of art, and consequently also its genesis, that was more open to the world? How might the canon and the art historical narratives themselves have changed? With these questions as starting points, the exhibition unfolds in more than ten thematic chapters as a many-voiced collaboration of internal and external curators, encompassing the whole exhibition space of the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin.
Hello World places the focus on transnational artistic networks and cross-cultural entanglements from the late 19th century to the present. The exhibition presents over 120 paintings, sculptures, installations, videos and films by some 80 artists, chosen from the collection of the Nationalgalerie. These provide points of departure for an exploration into hidden stories and new perspectives on the collection and its history. Such stories include Heinrich Vogeler’s path to the Soviet Union, Dadaist Tomoyoshi Murayama’s sojourn in Berlin in the 1920s, and the collaborations between Nicolás García Uriburu and Joseph Beuys. To do so, Hello World also incorporates works drawn from the collections of the Ethnologisches Museum, the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, the Kupferstichkabinett, and the Kunstbibliothek (all also of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), as well as the Staatsbibliothek Berlin and international loans.
As an institution encompassing five museums, the Nationalgalerie holds an extensive collection of art created from 1800 onwards. It was created in the mid-19th century out of the donation of a private collection. From the early 20th century on, the idea of a ‘museum of the present’ developed out of the collection of the Nationalgalerie. This was housed in the Kronprinzenpalais between 1919 and 1937. After the Second World War the museum’s collections were divided between museums in East and West Berlin. Since 1996 ‘the museum of the present’ has found a new home in the Hamburger Bahnhof. The ruptures in the institution’s history caused by National Socialism, the Second World War, and the Cold War are clearly reflected in the collections. Hello World is the first exhibition to explicitly call the Eurocentric character of the Nationalgalerie’s collections into question, opening up a discussion on how a museum collection can reposition itself today.
The exhibition was developed by Udo Kittelmann with Sven Beckstette, Daniela Bystron, Jenny Dirksen, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Gabriele Knapstein, Melanie Roumiguière and Nina Schallenberg for the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, with contributions from guest curators Zdenka Badovinac, Eugen Blume, Clémentine Deliss, Natasha Ginwala and Azu Nwagbogu.