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Over One Million Visitors at MoMA in Berlin:
The Block Buster Exhibition in Retrospec

MoMa in Berlin broke all visitor records. Reason enough for the organizers to look happily to the future. As project managers for the Verein der Freunde der Neuen Nationalgalerie (The Association of Friends of the New National Gallery), Katharina von Chlebowski and André Odier took care of the exhibition from the start. They give a short outline of events in an interview with db artmag.

Queue at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin Photo: © Courtesy Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Berlin

On September 1st at about 10:30 AM on the 163rd exhibition day, the one-millionth visitor was greeted at The MoMA in Berlin. The nineteen year old student Marie-Louise Dietrich and her mother were surprised by employees of the Neue National Galerie and the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit on the over 800 meter long waiting line in front of the Mies van der Rohe building. The visitor was awarded a trip for two to the celebratory reopening of the new MoMA in New York. The trip into the American metropolis was generously supported by the Deutsche Bank, who sponsored the ticket. “The response to the MoMA exhibition topped even our most confident expectations. I am especially happy that the Deutsche Bank as sponsoring partner of The MoMA in Berlin was able to be jointly responsible for the large success of the exhibition, and that through our free student trips we were able to introduce so many students to contemporary art”, Gustav Holtkemper, executive board member of the Deutsche Bank Berlin at the award ceremony.

The one-million visitor of the exhibition, Marie-Louise Dietrich and
the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit.
Photo: (c) Courtesy Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Berlin

With this, the exhibition broke all art visitor records in Berlin and now belongs worldwide to the most successful special exhibitions. The guest works from New York will be on view until September 19th with extended opening hours. So far, only exhibitions that had little or nothing to do with art could draw so many curious viewers to Berlin. Three years ago, only 1.4 million visitors came to the highly debated exhibition Body Worlds within a period of seven months. The most spectacular art event to date has been the wrapping of the Reichstag. More than five million people saw Christo’s work in 1999. When MoMA’s gates in Berlin finally close on Sunday, September 19th at 10PM, and the success of the exhibition has been celebrated with a firework display in front of the Nationalgalerie, there will be two very exhausted but satisfied people. As project leaders, Katharina von Chlebowski and André Odier have escorted the exhibition of the century from the beginning. Here they summarize the events in an interview with artmag.

Katharina von Chlebowski and André Odier
Photo: © Courtesy Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, Berlin

How are you feeling now toward the end of the exhibition?

Katharina von Chlebowski: That is not at all easy to describe. Somehow pleased and exhausted at the same time. In any case, we learned as much in the last seven months as we would have in seven years under normal circumstances. As the exhibition organizers we are now faced with completely new questions that used to be absolutely beyond our imagination. There were many counterfeit entrance tickets and tickets were even offered for auction on E-bay.

In your opinion, what was the main reason behind the success of the exhibition?

André Odier: A lot of things came together. Certainly, one important reason was the promise to show masterpieces from the 20th century, which everyone knew in reproduction but always wanted to see in original. On top of this was the extremely professional advertising and of course the enthusiasm of the public. I am sure it was also great to meet people in the waiting line who came from all corners of the world in order to experience the “entire art work”: discussions, encounters, a bit of adventure and then a temple where you could spend as much time as you like. There was a lot on offer there.

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