On a walk through the Kunstareal Munich, we follow in the footsteps of King Ludwig I and explore important art collections along the way. Starting at the main station, our tour takes us via Königsplatz to the large Pinakothek museums and back again via the Old Botanical Garden. Discover the magnificent exhibitions in Munich's Pinakothek museums by train now!
Munich is always worth a trip by train. Rich in history, the Bavarian capital offers a diverse range of art and culture. The number of cultural institutions such as museums and universities is particularly dense, especially in the Kunstareal München. This is located in the Maxvorstadt district of Munich, north of the main railway station, and is one of the most important cultural locations in Europe. THE sights of the state capital are also located here - the Munich Pinakotheken.
What exactly are the Pinakothek museums in Munich?
In ancient times, the term "Pinakothek" referred to the room of a temple where panel paintings were kept. A pinacotheca is therefore to be understood as a gallery of paintings. Incidentally, in German-speaking countries the use of the term goes back to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who founded the Alte and Neue Pinakothek in Munich. A tip beforehand: don't try to master all the museums mentioned in one day. Just one Pinakothek is enough to fill the programme for a day trip to Munich. But now let's start with our walk through the entire Kunstareal before focusing specifically on the exhibitions in Munich's Pinakothek museums. We start at the main station.
From Bahnhofplatz, the path leads us north into Luisenstraße. We pass the Staccioliring, an oversized modern sculpture on Karl-Stützel-Platz. After a few hundred metres we catch sight of the first monumental building - the Propylaea. This gate, which is modelled on a temple entrance in its design, or more precisely on the Propylaea of the Acropolis, was once commissioned by King Ludwig I. It was built in the years 1848 to 1848. Built between 1848 and 1862 according to plans by Leo von Klenze, the Propylaea already served only as a representative city gate, as the city had already expanded beyond Königsplatz during the construction period.
Kunstareal Munich: at the centre of "Isar-Athens
On our way through the Kunstareal in Munich, we now step through the gate and find ourselves on Königsplatz. This central Munich square with imposing buildings on three sides impresses with its European classicist style. On the north side of the Königsplatz is the Glyptothek, a museum also built under Ludwig I for the collection of antique sculptures. In the museum, whose façade is reminiscent of a Greek temple, you can marvel at sculptures, mosaics and reliefs from antiquity. Opposite on the south side of Königsplatz is the former Art and Industry Exhibition Building, which has housed the State Collections of Classical Antiquities since 1967. During a visit to the museum, you can expect to see antique objects of use as well as art in the form of clay vessels, statuettes, gold jewellery and glass. Tickets for both museums can be purchased directly at the museum ticket offices or in advance online. The inner courtyard and Hall VIII of the Glyptothek also house a museum café where you can enjoy Munich's Mediterranean atmosphere with a cup of Italian coffee.
Art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century
We leave Königsplatz in an easterly direction and follow Brienner Straße to Karolinenplatz. In its centre, a black obelisk rises up to commemorate the Bavarian soldiers of the Russian campaign of 1812. But we continue walking north into Barer Straße. After a few metres we cross Gabelsberger Straße and see the Alte Pinakothek in front of us on our left. The Alte Pinakothek opened its doors in 1836 and was the largest museum building in the world at that time. Paintings from the Middle Ages to the middle of the 18th century are waiting to be discovered during your visit to the art museum. Besides a self-portrait by Albrecht Dürer from 1500, the Alte Pinakothek also houses works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt. Paintings by Raphael and Da Vinci, such as the "Madonna with the Carnation", are also on display here in their original form. Be sure to plan enough time to enjoy the time-honoured masters accordingly.
The next stop on our tour of Munich's Kunstareal is directly opposite the Alte Pinakothek. With its collection, the Neue Pin akothek follows on chronologically from the Alte Pinakothek and is itself complemented by the Pinakothek der Moderne with exhibits from more recent art history. The Munich Art Museum, which opened in 1853, was badly damaged in air raids in 1944 and burnt out completely. In 1973, the new Pinakothek reopened its doors in its post-modern new building. During a visit, you can expect to see mainly European paintings and sculptures from the 19th century - from Classicism, Romanticism and Art Nouveau to Impressionism. Besides Caspar David Friedrich, as a representative of German Romanticism, the Neue Pinakothek also shows works by Manet, Klimt, Monet and Van Gogh. The Neue Pinakothek gallery is expected to undergo extensive renovation work until 2025 and will not be open to the public. A selection of its masterpieces has been moved to the ground floor of the east wing of the Alte Pinakothek and to the Schack Collection in Prinzregentenstraße, not far from the Bavarian National Museum, for the duration of the construction work. On the Pinakothek website, however, you can marvel at the 22 rooms and ten cabinets of the Neue Pinakothek on an online tour.
Contemporary art in the Kunstareal in Munich
The next stop on our walk through Munich's Kunstareal is the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. The museum building, which opened in 2002, is located opposite the Alte Pinakothek to the east. The Pinakothek der Moderne combines four independent museums under one roof and thus covers four different disciplines - art, graphics, architecture and design. As part of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, the Modern Art Collection focuses on paintings and sculptures from classical modernism to contemporary art. During your visit you can marvel at paintings by Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. The graphic arts section is covered by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München. This museum for drawings and prints has around 400,000 sheets from the 12th to the 21st century in its repertoire. The four independent museums are complemented by the Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich and Die Neue Sammlung. At the latter, you can expect a design museum that is one of the world's largest museums of 20th and 21st century applied art. As in all Pinakothek museums, there are regular guided tours for those interested, which allow you to delve deeper into art history.
For art-loving families, the Pinakothek der Moderne also offers a special programme for children and young people. Workshops, guided tours of the museum for the whole family and interactive events introduce even the youngest to the subject of art in a playful way and also let them get creative themselves. For those who have become hungry from all the impressions, the Winter Garden of the Pinakothek der Moderne is the perfect place to take a break. The adjacent café offers coffee and cake as well as small snacks.
Besides the Pinakothek museums in Munich, there are many other impressive museums in the Kunstareal in Maxvorstadt or in the immediate vicinity. One of them is the Museum Brandhorst. It houses Udo and Anette Brandhorst's collection of modern and contemporary art. As we pass by, the spectacular museum façade made of 36,000 ceramic rods immediately catches the eye. However, we gradually make our way back to the main station on our tour of Munich. To the west we follow Gabelsberger Straße, past the impressive building of the University of Television and Film. Inside there is the State Museum of Egyptian Art with exhibits from all periods of ancient Egypt. However, we turn south into Arcisstraße and follow it until we reach the neoclassical building of the Park Café on the northern edge of the Old Botanical Garden.
After the Pinakotheken in Munich: a break in the park
This botanical garden, which was turned into a city park in 1937 by the landscape architect Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, not only invites you to take a stroll, but the Park Café also offers the opportunity to take a short break with a coffee or a freshly tapped beer speciality. In the restaurant, both pub classics and freshly grilled food are served, and when the weather is nice, the large terrace with adjoining beer garden invites you to linger. After our snack, the path through the Old Botanical Garden takes us past the original entrance portal from 1812 in the eastern part of the park. Following Elisenstraße to the west, we pass the Neptune Fountain and turn south again at Luisenstraße to Bahnhofplatz.
Our walk to the Pinakotheken in Munich's Kunstareal was rich in different cultural impressions. Nevertheless, you should definitely come back, because there are a total of 18 museums and exhibition spaces as well as 40 galleries and cultural institutions to explore in the Kunstareal München alone. And the Pinakothek museums, with their changing special exhibitions, always leave you with something new to discover. Another tip: on Sundays, the Pinakotheken museums, along with several other museums in Munich, offer the discounted admission of €1. So your next trip to Munich by train almost plans itself. See you next time.
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.