A.n a day in October five years ago, the winner of the architecture competition for the new Berlin Museum of the 20th Century was presented at the Kulturforum on Potsdamer Platz. A night-time Minister of State for Culture was sitting on the stage, tired but happy. In the beginning, said Monika Grütters, she was skeptical about the design by the Swiss architects Herzog und de Meuron. But then the experts in the jury would have convinced them of the quality of the building that the two famous Swiss wanted to build at the foot of the New National Gallery. Now she believes in the project and she will see to it that it succeeds.
The case is a prime example of the power of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, as the office is called by its full name. When the winning design was announced, the Bundestag budget committee approved two hundred million euros for the museum. In the meantime, the building, which enjoys inglorious prominence as the “barn”, officially costs 450 million euros. At the same time, its aesthetic appearance has suffered even more. There will be no roof that glows in the dark, nor will there be any connection to Mies van der Rohe’s National Gallery. The exhibition space is smaller than planned. Most recently, the Federal Audit Office reprimanded the building’s complex air-conditioning technology.
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