Udo Kittelmann at the Nationalgalerie. Photo: Juliane Eirich. Courtesy of the National Museums Berlin.

Veteran Museum Director Udo Kittelmann to Step Down from Helm of Berlin’s Nationalgalerie

Udo Kittelmann, the longtime director of Berlin’s Nationalgalerie, an umbrella organization that comprises five top institutions—the Alter and Neue Nationalgaleries, the Berggruen Museum, the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection, and the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art—will resign from his post when his contract expires in October 2020.

Credited with raising the international profile of the city’s state museum galleries, Kittelmann also maintained an active curatorial practice during his twelve-year tenure, organizing group shows such as “The Black Years: Stories of a Collection, 1933–1945” (2015–16) and “Hello World. Revision of a Collection” (2018), as well as solo presentations of work by Hilma af Klint, Thomas Demand, and Otto Piene, among others.

During his tenure, Kittelmann also oversaw the renovation of the Neue Nationalgalerie’s Mies van der Rohe–designed building, which is scheduled to open this fall; championed the collections of Friedrich Christian Flick, Erich Marx, Egidio Marzona, and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch; and added more than five hundred works to its collection, including Max Beckmann’s Self-portrait in a Bar, 1942; Pierre Huyghe’s Zoodram 6 (after Sleeping Muse by Constantin Brancusi), 2013; and Adrian Piper’s The Probable Trust Registry, 2013–15.

Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, expressed regret over Kittelmann’s departure and called him a “museum man” who has “made the Nationalgalerie a global player both nationally and internationally.” He added: Kittelmann’s work has a “degree of sustainability that will last beyond the day he leaves. . . . His exceptional curatorial skills, his passion for art, and his unmistakable sense for interesting positions will certainly continue to amaze us in other places.”

Deputy director Joachim Jäger will serve as the interim head of the institutions until a new director is hired.