On June 20th 2005 the Zentrum Paul Klee opened 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 artist Paul Klee (1879–1940), his life and his work. 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, where the artist spent a half of his life, is a monument of international renown and a personal tribute to Paul Klee himself.
Of the 10,000 or so works that make up Paul Klee’s oeuvre a good 40 per cent, that is to say around 4,000 paintings, watercolours and drawings as well as archives and biographical material, has been brought together at the Zentrum Paul Klee. The Centre’s collections are considered as the largest collection of a single artist of world renown.
The idea of the founder Prof. Dr. Maurice Müller was to resist the construction of a traditional art museum. In the legacy of the Paul Klee-Foundation it should become an internationally leading competence centre for the research, communication and presentation of the person, the life and work of Paul Klee as well as portraying their reception. Referring to Paul Klee’s manifold artistic activities, it should not only limit itself to the presentation of Klee’s pictorial works but also become a platform for interdisciplinary forms of artistic expression.
For the realisation of the building to house the new institution, Müller was able to engage the famous and manifold prize-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano. The examination of the complex project description and the site on the eastern edge of the City of Berne brought him to the idea of creating a generous green island out of which the architecture arises as an articulation of the terrain in the form of three waves.
The three hills of steel and glass represent so to speak the interdisciplinary programme. Accordingly next to the generous exhibition rooms also a hall ideally equipped for musical performances and events is available. In addition there is a so-called «Childrens’ museum» with studios for the practical creative occupation of persons from the age of 4, a multifunctional ‘idle mile’, the so-called «Museumsstrasse», as well as rooms equipped with the most modern event technology for national and international congresses. Visual art, music, theatre, dance, literature, art history and the communication of art should not only be next to one another but in mutual examination and exchange find new forms of expression.
This exceptional cultural centre costing some 125 million Swiss francs was made possible by a public private partnership. The private contributors are the Klee family, the family of the renowned orthopaedic surgeon Prof. Dr. med. Maurice E. Müller, Dr. h. c. mult., and his wife Martha Müller-Lüthi, as well as private collectors and sponsors from business and industry.