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Energy-related renovation work completed at Alte Pinakothek; Rooms are open to the public once again
Energy-related renovation work overseen by the Municipal Building Dept. München 1 covered all the building’s external windows, the blinds, the insulation and the optimisation of the lighting in general. © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Photo: Johannes Haslinger.

MUNICH.- The energy-related renovation work in the Alte Pinakothek that was started four-and-a-half years ago has now been completed. All 13 rooms on the upper level will be fully accessible. Cordoned off areas have been opened up and a tour of the whole building are now possible once again. The protective roof structures, fences and scaffolding outside the building will be removed in the course of the month.

Rooms on the ground floor at the eastern end of the building, where Early German paintings are shown, were already re-opened to the public at Whitsun. The temporary exhibition space that has been at the ‘Klenzeportal’ since 2005, has been moved to the west end of the building.

Anyone going up the stairs to the exhibition rooms in the spring of 2017 may well have been surprised or even annoyed by the opaque glass in the windows covered in streaks and stains. The bonding material in the laminated glass had disintegrated over the years due to heat. Visitors were confronted with a similar picture of non-transparent glass in the rooms with natural overhead lighting.

This aesthetic calamity was aggravated by an energy-related problem too: the roof space had never been insulated before. This meant that the whole area had to be heated in winter to ensure that no condensation accumulated on the suspended glazed ceiling and dripped through into the air-conditioned rooms below; in summer, due to the heat, the whole roof area had to be ventilated – using a vast amount of energy – so that the ambient conditions necessary for conservation reasons in the galleries below were not effected.

There was also a third reason: due to the defect blinds that had not been in use for some time, the suspended glazed ceiling had to be covered with large strips of material to prevent direct sunlight entering the rooms. This in turn meant that the artificial lighting, that could not be dimmed, had to be left on full from morning until evening, in summer and in winter. For almost 20 years it had no longer been possible to view the paintings in the main rooms by natural light any more!

Energy-related renovation work overseen by the Municipal Building Dept. München 1 covered all the building’s external windows, the blinds, the insulation and the optimisation of the lighting in general.

A complete closure of the museum was not an option. Since spring 2014 work was carried out on the roof and windows in three building phases, while visitors continued to have access to the areas that remained open. First of all, great lengths were taken to protect the walls and floors from dust and damage by machines in the emptied rooms with overhead lighting. Full-height scaffolding was erected and extended up to the ridge of the roof after the removal of the suspended glazed ceiling. Work was generally carried out in three rooms simultaneously and, during the second building phase in 2016/17, in all six rooms in each end of the building. This scaffolding held up the platform for work carried out on the roof. This included the strengthening of the supporting structure, the renewal of glazing panels in the overhead lights, the installation of blinds, a ventilation system and the insulation of the roof. As the roof inevitably had to be opened up, a weatherproof protective covering had to be constructed before each building phase. The unexpected discovery of toxic material (asbestos) during the first building phase in 2014/15 led to considerable delays that could only partly be made up for later on.

At the same time as work was being done on the roof, the panes of glass in the windows were replaced during each building phase. Due to the thermal bridges that existed in all the window niches on the north, west and east façades, where mould was prone to form, the plaster had to be removed and replaced by a multi-layered insulating plaster. Some 1400 damaged panes of glass were replaced by modern insulating glass. The defective glazing in the slanting roofs which light the upper rooms was also replaced by modern glass with perfect insulation properties; glazing which ensures optimum light transmission and scattering was also installed in the suspended glazed ceilings in the rooms.

The positive effect of these measures can already be seen in the museum’s energy consumption. The declared objective of reducing the Alte Pinakothek’s ecological footprint has been achieved.

At the same time, the works of art can now be seen in a better light: in future, the maximum amount of natural light permissible from a conservation point of view can be used. The blinds in the roof, that are made up of movable louvres, regulate the ingress of light and prevent direct sunlight. The angle of the sun in the course of any one year has been included in the programming of the control technology installed, based on the line of latitude on which Munich lies. When the amount of natural light in the rooms is not adequate, a new, infinitely variable artificial lighting system that is regulated by sensors, switches itself on automatically.

Anyone visiting the Alte Pinakothek on a bright summer’s day like at the moment will instantly recognise the pleasant effect of daylight. Constantly changing natural light brings the paintings to life in a way that has not been seen for decades.

With the re-opening of the rooms the standard entrance fee of 7 Euros (concessions: 5 Euros) will be charged once again.

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