Built in 1881 as a museum for applied arts, Martin-Gropius-Bau with its complex history is today one of the most prominent exhibition sites in Europe. The heavily damaged building was reopened in 1981 with the exhibition Prussia: Attempt at a Balance. Since then, twenty to twenty five exhibitions have been shown each year that regularly meet with great public interest and resonance. The Berlin Festspiele work together with partners like the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin or the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle Bonn to insure a rich and rewarding program for this landmark building in the center of the city.
The architects Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden originally built the house in the Renaissance style as an arts and crafts museum. It was ceremoniously opened in 1881. The Museum of Prehistory and Early History and the East Asian Art Collection moved into the building after the First World War, while the arts and crafts collection was transferred to the City Palace (Stadtschloss). The building was severely damaged in 1945 during the last weeks of World War II. It wasnâ€™t until 1966 that it was classified as a historical monument. Reconstruction began in 1978 under the direction of the architects Winnetou Kampmann and Ute WestrĂ¶m. The house was named after Martin Gropius, a great uncle of Walter Gropius, who had strongly urged that the museum should be rebuilt.
Since its meticulous restoration in the 1970s the Martin-Gropius-Bau has become one of the most famous and most beautiful exhibition halls in Germany. Many international exhibitions have since found a fitting venue there. Many millions of visitors have seen the exhibitions in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. The house was further restored in 1999/2000 with funding from the federal government. Air-conditioning was installed and the north entrance was redesigned as the main entrance. The architectural office of Hilmer & Sattler & Albrecht was in charge of the reconstruction.