The Beeskow Art Archive houses an exceptional collection from the 40 years of the GDR’s existence, including 17,000 artworks, as well as 1,500 pieces of applied arts and non-professional works, making it an important location of cultural and art history. Owned by GDR parties, mass organisations and state facilities before 1990, the pieces have belonged to the federal states since German reunification. The depot in Beeskow houses the collections belonging to the states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
Today, this coincidental and concluded collection of state-funded works provides diverse insight into the GDR’s system of culture and the arts: firstly, they reflect political and social norms. Secondly, the collection equally invites us to investigate the works’ visual and aesthetic qualities.Close
Until April 30, 2019, an administration agreement between the states of Brandenburg, Berlin and Mecklenburg West Pomerania, and the District of Oder-Spree determined the operations of the Beeskow Art Archive, which has preserved, exhibited and researched the art collections of GDR parties, mass organisations and state bodies since the early 1990s. After the states of Berlin and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania declared their departure from the administrative agreement, the Beeskow Art Archive was largely funded by the District of Oder-Spree with more comprehensive support from the State of Brandenburg.
Termination of the administrative agreement between the states of Brandenburg, Berlin and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. In future, each state will contractually coordinate the location of its part of the collection individually with the District of Oder-Spree. The State of Brandenburg now funds the Beeskow Art Archive more comprehensively.
The collection’s general inventory begins in late 2015 and is completed on April 30, 2019.
The new depot, which enables improved storage, visibility and accessibility, is officially inaugurated on May 29, 2019 as an open depot.
Support from the funding programme “Invest Ost” enables the new equipment of the depot facility in the former building district archive on the “Spree Island” in Beeskow. The art collection’s relocation is completed in late 2018/early 2019.
Florentine Nadolni becomes Director of the Beeskow Art Archive.
Negotiations between the District of Oder-Spree, the Municipality of Beeskow and the State of Berlin on housing the 15,000 objects from the (West) Berlin Artothek der Sozialen Künstlerförderung in the Art Archive’s future building end without a result.
The general inventory commissioned by the States of Brandenburg, Berlin and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania begins.
In October, the architectural office Max Dudler, which had been contracted by the Municipality of Beeskow and the District of Oder-Spree, presents its designs for the Art Archive’s new building. Construction work has not yet begun due to a lack of funds.
Joint project “Bildatlas: Kunst in der DDR”: an image database of the paintings between 1945 and 1990 is established with over 20,000 objects in 165 collections (museums, special depots, companies and private facilities); directed by Prof. Dr. Karl-Siegbert Rehberg from the Institute of Sociology at the TU Dresden. The project partners are the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Beeskow Art Archive.
Dr. Wolfgang de Bruyn assumes his new role at the KleistMuseum in Frankfurt/Oder. Dr. Ilona Weser, Head of the Department of Education, Health and Social Affairs at the District of Oder-Spree, becomes the new Director of the Beeskow Art Archive.
The exhibition “Ein weites Feld. Landwirtschaft in der Malerei der DDR” (“A broad field. Landscape in GDR painting”) with paintings from the Beeskow Art Archive and the BauernGalerie in Schloss Elisabethenburg is presented in cooperation with the Meininger Museen and supported by the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen and the Thuringia Ministry of Culture.
The exhibition “Zwischen Himmel und Erde, Landschaftsbilder aus der DDR” (“Between heaven and earth, landscape images from the GDR”) is presented in cooperation with the Haus der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Geschichte in Potsdam and supported by the Stiftung Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv DRA, the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung im Land Brandenburg and Kulturland Brandenburg e.V.
The administrative agreement “Kunstarchiv” (“Art Archive”) is closed between the states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The Board of Trustees agrees on the name of “Kunstarchiv Beeskow”. The State of Brandenburg finds an operator to administrate the archive collection within Brandenburg: the Department of Culture and Sport of the District of Oder-Spree, led by Dr. Wolfgang de Bruyn. Marina Aurich, Director of the District Archive, assumes responsibility for cataloguing the collection. The offices are situated on the grounds of the Burg Beeskow.
Herbert Schirmer leaves the Burg Beeskow and Tilman Schladebach becomes its new Director.
Following the exhibition “… und der Zukunft zugewandt!” (“… and looking to the future!”), which is presented in 1997, the exhibition of works entitled “Rahmen-Wechsel: Fragen an Kunstsammlungen der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR” (“Change of frames: Questions on art collections owned by GDR parties and mass organisations”) opens in November 1998, causing a considerable reaction by the general public and the media, as well as controversial discussions among the expert public.
The inventory of paintings, graphics, sculptures, medals, handcrafted textiles, caricatures, photographs and posters is completed. Work on the stock catalogue of paintings, graphics and sculptures begins. In September, the centre presents the painting exhibition “Die Schönheit der Macht” (“The Beauty of Power”), which opens with an international symposium on the relationship between art and dictatorship.
A warehouse near the Burg Beeskow is converted into a painting depot for a total of 20,000 artworks by the District of Oder-Spree. The participating federal states, the district council and the interest group “neue bildende kunst” in Berlin close agreements that regulate the art’s handling to a very large extent. In October, the “Sammlungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Kunst der DDR” (“Collection and Documentation Centre of GDR Art”) employs a research associate, a depot administrator and a librarian. The first loans from the Documentation Centre are presented by The Workers Museum in Copenhagen. The exhibitions “Querformat 1” and “Querformat 2” (“Landscape Format 1+2”) are presented to the public. The Senate for Cultural Affairs in Berlin decides to move the collection, which was originally owned by the East Berlin City Council and had thus become the property of the Berlin Senate, to Beeskow.
The Treuhandanstalt passes on the artworks originally stored in the building belonging to the NDPD party to the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The “special estate” is allocated according to where it was found and becomes the property of the respective states. The states of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Brandenburg and Berlin decide to pool their collection and store it in Beeskow. A research and recording office is established at the fortress in Königstein, operated by the Cultural Fund of the Free State of Saxony, while a documentation office to record the cultural assets of the State of Saxony-Anhalt is set up in Halle/Saale. The art collection of the Vereinigung der gegenseitigen Bauernhilfe (“Peasants Mutual Aid association”), which became the property of the Free State of Saxony, is stored at the Meiningen Museums. A three-year programme funded by the Treuhand plans joint processing of the stock. The administration is to be led by the Burg Beeskow.
In December, the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM) in Berlin presents a symposium entitled “In search of the lost state”. The event is aimed at critically engaging with the commissioned art in the GDR, addressing the ongoing approach to around 12,000 artworks that were commissioned by the parties and mass organisations of the GDR and subsequently secured and administrated as “special assets” by the Treuhand. Academics recommend the establishment of a research centre so that the art can be accessed for research.
As directed by the committee of the Stiftung Kulturfonds, the artworks collected in 1990 are distributed among the former GDR states. The Burg Beeskow receives most of the artworks allocated to the State of Brandenburg (300 paintings, 4,000 graphics, 70 sculptures).
Following a decision by the district council, work begins to convert the Burg Beeskow into an eastern Brandenburg cultural and educational centre. At the same time, work begins on establishing a contemporary art collection for the Berlin/Brandenburg region. Herbert Schirmer, the last Minister of Culture of the GDR, becomes Director of the Burg Beeskow in 1990.
On the instructions of the last Minister of Culture of the GDR, all districts collect artworks commissioned by the GDR Kulturfonds and exhibited in public buildings.
Like the Beeskow Art Archive, the Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR (DOK), which is located 30 km away in Eisenhüttenstadt and includes 170,000 items in its collection, is also a store of knowledge and a centre for engaging with cultural memory of the GDR.
The two institutions are closely connected, both in terms of their content and also with respect to their structure. Their common goals and tasks lie in preserving, accessing and communicating in a contemporary way the material and visual culture that lost its social frame of reference after 1990. To that aim, the 40 years of the GDR should be regarded from ever new, interdisciplinary perspectives and placed in a discourse with reference to the present day.
Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR
Tel. +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Director, Beeskow Art Archive/Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR
Press, Loans, Organisation
Tel. +49 (0)3366-35 2735
Dr. Angelika Weißbach
Tel. +49 (0)3366-35 2734
Tel. +49 (0)336635 2733
Depot Administration, Restoration
Tel. +49 (0)3366-41 7355
Funding & Partners
For decades, the Beeskow Art Archive has been working closely with partners and institutions in the fields of science, art and culture.
Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZZF)
Forum Kunstarchiv Beeskow e.V.
If you are interested in supporting the Art Archive, please contact us at:
+49 (0)3366 35 2715