Austrian real estate developer CA Immo is expected to drop its plans to demolish an extension to the Hamburger Bahnhof after reaching an agreement with the Berlin contemporary art museum. The agreement will likely bring an end to a battle that nearly cost the museum the ability to display pieces from Friedrich Christian Flick’s 1,500-work collection.
The negotiations with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Hamburger Bahnhof, may also become a crucial part of the city government’s larger efforts to repurchase the museum’s main building. In 2020, the German press agency dpa reported that local officials were seeking to buy back the Hamburger Bahnhof, the largest building in the Berlin Neue Nationalgalerie, from the real estate company CA Immo.
According to Die Welt, the German government does not own the Hamburger Bahnhof’s building, despite the fact that the museum is state-run. Only the extension was at risk of demolition, however.
Known as the Rieckhallen, the extension is a 65,000-square-foot space that was once used by the shipping company Rieck. After the company left the building in 2001, the structure became an art venue. In 2004, a bridge was added that connected it to the Hamburger Bahnhof.
Since that time, the Rieckhallen has been where the Hamburger Bahnhof staged presentations of works from the Flick collection, which has been on long-term loan to the city of Berlin since 2004. That collection is considered important due to the breadth of the artists represented in it. Among them are Alberto Giacometti, Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, Francis Picabia, On Kawara, Neo Rauch, Pipilotti Rist, Wolfgang Tillmans, Dieter Roth, Cindy Sherman, Katharina Fritsch, and countless others. Since 2004, Flick has gifted more than 250 works to Berlin.
In 2020, amid fears that the Rieckhallen would be demolished by CA Immo, Flick was prepared to let the contract guiding the loan of his collection run out. Udo Kittelmann, then the director of the Neue Nationalgalerie, called the potential loss “a great pain.” CA Immo’s agreement with the city government has arrived just in time, given that the contract was expected to expire on September 30.
“With the securing of the Rieckhallen, the Hamburger Bahnhof will have great prospects for the next decades, and the museum will be sustainably strengthened in its mission to collect and preserve the art of the present for the future,” said Gabriele Knapstein, director of the Hamburger Bahnhof, in a statement.
Andreas Quint, chairman of CA Immo’s board, said in a statement that he was “very pleased” with the agreement.
The news comes amid a regime change at the Hamburger Bahnhof. With Knapstein’s contract set to time out, the curatorial duo Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath were named directors of the museum earlier this month. They are expected to begin January 1.