Pinakotheken Blog

Stories from the museums

4/16/24 | Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Foreign work in the Pinakothek der Moderne

Modern Art Collection

As reported in the media, a foreign painting was discovered in the Modern Art Collection at the Pinakothek der Moderne at the end of February.

Was he an employee of the Pinakotheken?

The 51-year-old was a part-time employee at one of the four museums located in the Pinakothek der Moderne. The man was not employed by the Bavarian State Painting Collections (Pinakotheken), to which the Modern Art Collection in the Pinakothek der Moderne belong,  but by the Architecture Museum. 

How was the work installed?

The employee of the other museum used his work ID card and thus had access to the Modern Art Collection on the upper floor outside of regular opening hours. He drilled two holes, then inserted plugs and screwed the picture firmly to the wall

Were criminal charges filed?

Criminal charges were filed against an unknown person immediately after discovery in accordance with safety regulations. The charge was withdrawn in March.

Was the employee fired?

No, the employment contract was cancelled by mutual agreement. The Bavarian State Painting Collections (Pinakotheken) were not involved.

Was it an artistic intervention?

We say no. An artistic intervention thrives on overcoming obstacles in order to place one's art in other people's spaces, as is often the case in museums. In this case, the incident was merely a breach of trust towards the museums, in which the employee used his work ID card to gain unhindered access to our exhibition spaces outside opening hours.

In a museum with the world's most extensive collections of modern and contemporary art, graphics, design and architecture, employees must of course adhere to the security concepts so that internal processes are not hindered or even jeopardised and increasingly bureaucratised as a result of such an incident.

What is important to us:

Many part-time technical employees are freelance artists. They have a special appreciation for the art that they move and install in the course of setting up exhibitions. The employee was not employed by the Modern Art Collection.

All the people involved in the exhibitions of the Modern Art Collection are an integral part of our team. The appreciation of these people is not only expressed in direct co-operation, but is also visible in opening speeches, wall texts and accompanying publications. This is a process that can never be completed and must be worked on continuously.

Statement by Andres Lepik, Director of the TU Architecture Museum in the Pinakothek der Moderne: 

If employees of a museum break the trust placed in them, i.e.: pursue their private activities in the highly protected museum rooms using their work ID and thus bypassing the security system, they can no longer be entrusted with any tasks in the museum from then on. Museums as public institutions are responsible for ensuring that all collections and external loans on display in exhibitions and museum spaces are protected.

Anyone who disregards these differentiated processes on their own authority and by taking advantage of their privileged position as an employee has grossly violated the elementary basic rules for their employment.

Statement Bavarian State Painting Collections ( Pinakotheken): 

The presentations and exhibitions at the Pinakothek der Moderne are characterised by a passion for the present and for current and relevant artistic movements. The juxtapositions and dialogues of the works are carefully composed by the curators for the public and out of collegiality and respect for their academic work may not be arbitrarily changed or expanded for selfish motives.

On the basis of the employment relationship and due to the unrivalled holdings of modern and contemporary art as well as graphics, design and architecture, employees are obliged, among other things, to comply with the strict security concepts, not to endanger valuable cultural assets and not to alienate curatorial concepts.

The Pinakothek der Moderne unites four museums under one roof. Art, graphics, architecture and design come together in one of Europe's largest collections of 20th and 21st century art and design. The multidisciplinary programme of the museum is characterised by a passion for the present. On up to 13,000 square metres of exhibition space, visitors can experience a contemporary and dynamic exploration of current and relevant trends in around 30 exhibitions per year. The centre of the building, the light-flooded rotunda, serves as a place for lively encounters and discussions. On Sundays, admission is just 1 euro for everyone!

Contribution by

Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections ) oversee a substantial part of the painting and art holdings of the Free State of Bavaria as well as the associated Munich museums: the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Sammlung Moderne Kunst (Modern Art Collection) in the Pinakothek der Moderne, the Sammlung Schack (Schack Collection), the Museum Brandhorst and, in addition, twelve state galleries throughout Bavaria. Here, art historians from various specialist fields, scientists and restorers from the associated Doerner Institute work together with numerous other staff members to manage, preserve and scientifically explore the large collection of more than 30,000 objects.