Extensive groups of artworks with oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints by the painters belonging to the Brücke (Bridge) art movement (1905-1913) – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Otto Mueller, Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde – as well as others by Lovis Corinth and Max Beckmann form the focus of the collections and are displayed in changing exhibits.
These high-quality collections documenting the development of German Expressionism from its early beginnings to the period following World War I were compiled by painter, editor, author of art books and novels ("The Boat"), Lothar-Günther Buchheim (1918-2007). However, he was not satisfied with exclusively concentrating on the Expressionists but, instead, also explored their sources of inspiration – art from Africa and the South Pacific – along with expressive tendencies in ethnology and anthropology.
The collection garnered world renown in the 1980s as a result of a tour through Europe, the USA, Japan and Israel. Erich Heckel's painting, "Der schlafende Pechstein" (The Sleeping Pechstein) (1910), is one of the highlights of the Brücke collection. It is considered one of the earliest artefacts of German Expressionism. The museum also has special exhibits displaying unknown treasures and groups of collection items – especially from the Classical Modern period – or investigates the subject matter of the diverse collections in greater detail. Events and concerts ranging from classical music to world music in the exhibit rooms intensify the dialogue between pictures, music, literature and theatre.
The museum in a spacious park on the shore of Lake Starnberg with an exhibit space of around 4000 m2 (architect: Günter Behnisch) combines art, nature and architecture, thereby making itself into a unique Gesamtkunstwerk.
Since his younger days, the art collector – who died in 2007 – kept and collected anything and everything that seemed original to him, usually items that were contrary to the mainstream. He travelled around the world with his watercolour pad and camera, creating a snapshot of time: old Paris and Carnival in Venice, the horror of submarine warfare and the moraine hills of the Bavarian foothills. Part of the "loot" from these restless forays can be admired in the Museum of Imagination.
Buchheim was introduced to the world of art at an early age. His mother Charlotte was a painter and was keen to encourage her son's artistic talent. So it came to be that he experienced World War II as a war reporter and illustrator. These were experiences that he later explored in literary form: in his bestseller, "The Boat". In 1981, the book was made into a movie, bringing the author widespread fame, although he was not best pleased with the version produced by Wolfgang Peterson.
In the period after the war, Buchheim purchased numerous works of art produced by the Expressionist movement, a style of art that the Nazis had considered decadent and vilified as a result. However, after the end of the Second World War, this form of art was rehabilitated and the prices for Expressionist art rose, including that of Lothar-Günther Buchheim's collection. So it was that the Museum of Imagination in Bernried on Lake Starnberg was opened in 2001 after certain obstacles had been overcome. The path to the opening of the museum was a long and difficult one: Despite the triumphant parade of the Expressionist art collection around the world, Lothar-Günther Buchheim's second home, the township of Feldafing, wasn't interested in the collection. It was only after long years of searching that Buchheim found the picture-perfect spot on the shore of Lake Starnberg. The building marked by its modern architecture was subsidised by the Bavarian state government with a sum of around 20 million euros.
His critics have grown increasingly silent in the meantime, although they do still like to accuse the collector of arbitrariness. They claim that his museum contains nothing more than trinkets and knick-knacks and – with the exception of the Expressionists – has little to do with art. Buchheim's propaganda art – created by him during his work as a war reporter and illustrator – also caused an uproar. It was supposed to be exhibited in Chemnitz in 2001, but shortly before the opening, the show was cancelled.
Tues. to Sun. and holidays 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tues. to Fri. 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sat., Sun. and holidays 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
From Starnberg by boat. By MVV S-Bahn (urban railway): take the S6 to Tutzing; from here, you take an RVO bus to the museum (no service on weekends) or the Regionalbahn (regional train) to Bernried. From there, through the centre of town, it is 20 minutes to the museum.