Reopening of the Museum Berggruen Berlin − Greeting remarks by Gerhard Schröder:
»Today would have been a very happy day for Heinz Berggruen. Sadly, he did not live to see this day. He could have seen how all his treasures have found a dignified home. How they have space to draw the visitor’s eye towards them. How the connection between the two buildings now includes a third space, the sculpture garden. How Berggruen’s last present to the museum, Giacometti’s Large Standing Woman III, does not just salute people as they enter but also directs our attention to her smaller siblings at the entrance of the commandant’s headquarters. I am sure this composition and the presentation of his treasures would have pleased the donor very much.
This day reminds us once more that we are indebted to Heinz Berggruen. I have a vivid memory of our first encounter. It took place at the beginning of my term as chancellor of Germany, at the end of 1999. Michael Naumann introduced us. You will have already guessed the occasion: Heinz Berggruen had offered his unique collection to the government. It was one of the most important collections of modernist art in Germany at that time, and now more so than ever. I was very touched by the wonderful collection that was to be brought to Berlin permanently. Moreover, I immediately recognized the deeper meaning of Berggruen’s extraordinary gesture. It was my job to convince the minister of finance, and I succeeded, as you all know. Compared to the exceptional value of the absolutely top-class collection, the price the government was to pay was symbolic.
Today is a good day for us to remember with gratitude. Heinz Berggruen’s present was, and continues to be, a gesture of reconciliation and forgiveness – Berggruen’s own very personal gesture! After fleeing from the Nazis and the pogrom, Heinz Berggruen returned to the city of his birth, Berlin, in the last years of his life – bringing along a tremendous present that touches people’s hearts. It helped, and still helps, to overcome the horrors of Nazism. And we are deeply grateful for that. When celebrating the reopening of the expanded Berggruen Museum today, we are also honouring the unique life’s work of this far-sighted, intelligent art collector and great man, Heinz Berggruen. To all of those who treasure and develop his work – thank you, especially to his wife Bettina and his children Nicolas, Olivier, John and Helen. “What you inherit from your father must first be earned before it’s yours.” The children have followed Goethe’s maxim. They share their father’s enthusiasm for the arts and have became important art patrons as well. And above all: they share the art with us. And for this, we also thank them from our hearts today.«
Greeting remarks by the former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder on the occasion of the reopening of the expanded Museum Berggruen on June 7th 2013, in Berlin