Glyptothek Museums Munich – the official city portal

Refurbishment: Glyptothek closed until autumn 2020

Since October 2018, the Glyptothek has been closed for an estimated two years due to renovation work. Above all, the museum will be technically refreshed and adapted to the needs of the disabled. Damage to the façade will also be repaired. The works of art will be stored in the depot or casted-in in the exhibition rooms. Some will travel to special exhibitions in Vienna, Berlin and Copenhagen.

The popular café (photo) has moved to the ground floor of the State Collections of Classical Antiquities opposite.

The impressive collection of the antique-enthusiast King Ludwig I awaits the visitor in the Glyptothek on Königsplatz. The magnificent art temple houses Greek and Roman sculptures such as the famous “Barberini Faun” or the “Drunken Old”. The museum, built by Leo von Klenze and opened in 1830, is the earliest public museum in Munich.

The Glyptothek Collection

In the Glyptothek visitors can admire works of art from four eras. These include both originals and Roman copies of Greek masterpieces from the archaic, classical, Hellenistic and Roman imperial periods. Between the heads and figures of famous antique personalities, visitors can study seemingly vivid facial features and admire the work of the long deceased sculptors. These are complemented by the bronze figures, vase art and gold jewellery in the State Collection of Classical Antiquities. Most of the treasures can be traced back to King Ludwig I, who used his private fortune to acquire increasingly valuable treasures.

History of the

As a young man, King Ludwig I discovered his passion for antique works of art. He wanted to share his considerable collection of Greek and Roman sculptures with the public and commissioned the construction of a Glyptothek. The future ruler gave strict instructions for this. For example, no windows were to be attached to the facades. The architect and artist Leo von Klenze received the commission. In 1815 he created a square in the style of an ancient forum, today’s Königsplatz. Until 1830, the Glyptothek was built on the north side of the square, where the idealised ancient culture of “Isar-Athens” was to find a suitable home.

During the Second World War the building was destroyed by air raids. However, the ancient sculptures and treasures had been removed for safety’s sake. In 1947 the restoration work began and it was decided to emphasize the simplicity of the building. The colourful frescoes by the painter Peter Cornelius, for example, also known as “The Gods of Greece”, were not restored because only a few fragments remained. Since its reopening in 1972, the façade has shone in white brick masonry.

The treasures of the Glyptothek

One of the exhibits is the “Medusa Rondanini”. The marble image of the ominous horror figure of Medusa is said to have decorated the shield of a monumental representation of Athena, which the sculptor Phidias created for the Parthenon. The “Münchner Kouros” is also remarkable. It is a typical representation of a virgin, i.e. the male counterpart of a virgin, who is usually depicted naked. The sight of the figure of the “drunken old woman” gives many visitors the impression that they were truly looking into the living face of an old woman sitting kneeling in front of them.

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Christina Cherry
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