The Lenbachhaus Museum in Munich, Germany, is reopening today after a major refurbishment by architects Foster + Partners that took four years and cost 63.3 million Euros.
Built in 1891 as a studio and villa for the artist Franz von Lenbach, the Lenbachhaus Museum has been gradually extended over the last century. However, its buildings were in need of renewal and the museum lacked the facilities to cater to a growing audience of 280,000 people a year.
Peeling away the historical additions, a 1972 extension has been removed to reveal the wall of the original villa, which has been restored in ochre render. The different historical elements have been unified by a new gallery pavilion that contains two levels of exhibition space. A new entrance to the museum has been created adjacent to the public restaurant, accessed via a new landscaped piazza to the east of the museum, in a move that reclaims the courtyard garden and turns it from a pedestrian thoroughfare into a tranquil space for visitors.
The new top-lit atrium, designed as the new social heart of the building, includes ticket and information desks, and allows access to a new temporary exhibition space on the ground floor. It also features a cantilevered stair to the upper level galleries and a site-specific commissioned art piece by artist Olafur Eliasson titled Wirbelwerk. New social spaces (that include a restaurant, terrace and education facilities) have also been added to improve the visitors’ experience, and an innovative fully controllable LED lighting system, the first of its kind in an art museum, was introduced throughout the building. The museum’s environmental performance was also improved by collecting and recycling rainwater, and by implementing a water-based heating and cooling system that uses less energy than an air-based heating.