On 20 June 2005 the Zentrum Paul Klee, built by Renzo Piano, is set to open its doors to visitors interested in art and to art lovers from all over the world. At the heart of this new cultural institution is the life and work of the artist Paul Klee (1879 - 1940). Today Paul Klee, who was also a musician, teacher and poet, ranks as one of the 20th century’s most significant artists. The Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern – the city in which the artist spent a half of his life – is a monument to his international renown, as well as a personal tribute to Paul Klee himself.
A good 40 per cent of the 10,000 or so works that make up Paul Klee’s oeuvre have been brought together at the Zentrum Paul Klee. The Centre holds around 4,000 paintings, watercolours and drawings, and also archives and biographical material. The Centre’s collections are considered to be the largest collection of a single artist of world renown.
The Zentrum Paul Klee will not be an art museum in the traditional sense. It is positioned to become the leading centre of competence worldwide for research into and the mediation and presentation of the life and work of Paul Klee, and also of the reception of his art. Given the diversity of Paul Klee’s artistic activities the Centre will therefore not limit itself merely to showcasing Klee’s pictorial work but act as a platform for interdisciplinary forms of artistic expression.
The ground floor of the Middle Hill has a space comprising 1,750 square metres for the presentation of the collection of over 4,000 works. Some 300 of these are on display at any one time, offering insights into the oeuvre.
The Centre is oriented toward interdisciplinary work based on the complex personality of Paul Klee. The presentation aims to make this real and visible to visitors through the musical and educational programmes. In order to be able to show this unique collection to a wide audience, the works on display are changed regularly or presented in a fresh context.
The ground floor of the Middle Hill comprises an area of 830 m2 which can be divided to suit the scale of different exhibitions. About four special exhibitions will be held here each year. Their main themes will be Paul Klee’s cultural, historical, and artistic environment, and the ramifications which his work has had into the 21st century. All these special exhibitions are directly linked to Klee and are aimed at complementing the current presentation of the regular collection. More specifically-themed exhibitions are shown in the forum (North Hill), on the Museum Street, and in the children’s museum, Kindermuseum Creaviva.
All public access ways to the Zentrum Paul Klee cross Museum Street, which runs parallel to the motorway and provides a functional, thematic, and aesthetic link between the museum’s three ‘hills’. Behind its 150 m glass front, Museum Street is a pleasant place to sit and talk or walk up and down. Traditional and electronic media are accessible here, allowing visitors to prepare themselves in advance of their viewing, or to ponder it afterward. These also inform visitors about cultural experiences on offer in Bern. A digitised version of Paul Klee’s entire oeuvre of some 10,000 works is accessible via the computer terminals.
Museum Street contains the reception and information area, the café, conference administration, shop, reference library, and an orientation and information system. In the open ground floor of the North Hill, Museum Street continues to the loft of the children’s museum Kindermuseum Creaviva. Themed exhibitions here focus on Paul Klee’s life and work. Museum Street and its facilities are free of charge and are open for longer than the temporary exhibitions. (Museum Street: Tue–Sun 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Thu to 9 p.m.; exhibition areas: Tue–Sun 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thu to 9 p.m.)
Guided tours and events
Paul Klee was a painter, musician, teacher, philosopher, and writer. Based on the complex levels of his personality and on his inspiring oeuvre, the Zentrum Paul Klee offers a programme of events encompassing the classic guided tours on art and architecture, themed events and performances, conferences and symposia, as well as theatrical and musical productions. Art, music, theatre and literature do not merely have parallel existences at the Zentrum Paul Klee, they interact to find new forms of expression.
Archive and Graphic Art Viewing Room
The collection/exhibition/research department is open by appointment to students, researchers, and specialists, as well as the interested lay public. The department includes a special library as well as an image database and a comprehensive documentation of the works. Those who have made an appointment can see original drawings and sketches on a Thursday afternoon in one of the seminar rooms. Staff at the centre are available to give expert advice and information on any aspect of Paul Klee and his work.
Kindermuseum Creaviva and ‘Open Studio’
At the children’s museum, Kindermuseum Creaviva, children, families, and school groups have a large selection of educational choices, both modular and individual. In a space of 700 m2 there are studios and study course and exhibition rooms, which can be made available by arrangement. Children from the age of four years are welcome, as are adults wanting to explore the artistic possibilities of their own imagination and creativity. A special feature is the Open Studio, where visitors may attend one-hour workshops dealing with Paul Klee themes. No appointment is necessary for these workshops.
Die Sommerakademie ist eine internationale Plattform für zeitgenössische Kunst, die sich mit der Erforschung der Gegenwart und dem Denken über Kunst beschäftigt. Aufgabe der Sommerakademie ist es, die künstlerische Produktion und deren Reflexion zu fördern und das Publikum in öffentlichen Veranstaltungen mit einzubeziehen. Die Sommerakademie lädt jeweils im August aufstrebende KünstlerInnen und KuratorInnen nach Bern ein, um gemeinsam mit renommierten Persönlichkeiten aus der Kultur einen zehntägigen, themengebundenen Workshop zu veranstalten. Die BEKB│BCBE (Berner Kantonalbank AG) als Stifterin und das Zentrum Paul Klee beschreiten mit diesem Programm neue Wege.
The Zentrum Paul Klee is an ideal venue for conferences, congresses, and conventions in combination with attractive side programmes. A number of multi-purpose rooms provide space for between thirty and 300 people and are fitted with the latest electronic media and equipment necessary for concerts, multilingual symposia, and seminars. All rooms have wheelchair access.
At the Zentrum Paul Klee, we like to spoil our guests — not only culturally, but culinarily as well. For the gastronomical facilities, we were able to engage top chefs Werner Rothen, formerly head chef of gastronomy at the Schweizerhof, and Nadine Wächter, formerly head chef of the Schultheissenstube im Schweizerhof, which has 16 Gault Millau points.
The Schöngrün restaurants comprise the Restaurant Schöngrün next to the centre (with salons for small groups) and the modern café on Museum Street, as well as catering provided for groups of twenty or more. Nadine Wächter and Werner Rothen offer fresh cuisine in a fine bistro atmosphere.
All the eateries at the Zentrum Paul Klee are run by ZFV-Unternehmungen. This respected Swiss catering company runs its own hotels (Sorell) as well as numerous restaurants and canteens. Quality and friendliness are the company’s trademarks. In the Schöngrün restaurants, the quality of the Zentrum Paul Klee art and architecture is carried over into the food.
The grounds and environment
The Zentrum Paul Klee appears as three architectural ‘hills’ rising gently from the surrounding grounds. Architecture and nature form a 2.5 hectare landscape sculpture which makes the centre unique. The grounds are bordered by a public path.
Martha Müller, a keen patron of music for many years, is also a passionate collector of contemporary art. She commissioned the Renzo Piano Workshop and landscape architects Eduard Neuenschwander and Anja Bandorf to create a sculpture park at the southeast edge of the grounds. Here a part of her collection, with works by Alicia Penalba, Oskar Wiggli, and Yves Dana, is displayed.
Wege zu Klee (Paths to Klee)
A themed orientation and information system (Paths to Klee) guides pedestrians to the Zentrum Paul Klee, to the centre of Bern, and to the Ostermundiger quarries — an important site for some of Paul Klee’s paintings.
Schritte für Klee (Steps for Klee)
Eighteen access streets to the Zentrum Paul Klee have been named after titles of works by the artist. All the relevant drawings, watercolors, and paintings by Klee, a graphic overview of the renamed roads and streets, as well as information on the history of the project are listed in the publication ‘Schritte für Klee’, available at the shop in the complex.
Adjoining the Zentrum Paul Klee is the Schosshalden Cemetery, where Paul Klee was laid to rest. It was fortuitous that the Zentrum Paul Klee was able to come into being in this significant place.
Zentrum Paul Klee
Standard: 20 CHF / reduced: 18 CHF / Students, Teachers: 10 CHF / Children (6 - 16): 7 CHF
Group ticket (10+ Persons): 18 CHF
The museum on google maps: