The fascinating history of this renowned art museum is a story of civic engagement. Back in 1848, when the Leipzig art association opened the municipal museum at the Moritzbastei, the hundred or so works on display were donations from the citizens of Leipzig. And the present-day collection of 3,500 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and 60,000 drawings and prints is largely comprised of gifts from private initiatives and generous patrons.
Maximilian Speck von Sternburg, Alfred Thieme, Adolf Heinrich Schletter, Fritz von Harck, Hans-Peter Bühler, Marion Bühler-Brockhaus: these are the names of people who have shaped the character of the museum for 150 years. The works of the current collection span the period from the late Middle Ages to the present day. These can now be displayed in full in the new 7,000m² museum building, which opened in 2004. There is a particular focus on Old German and Dutch paintings from the 15th to the 17th century, Italian paintings from the 15th to the 18th century, French paintings from the 19th century – including works by Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet – and German paintings from 18th to the 20th century. A whole floor is devoted to comprehensive displays of works by Max Klinger and Max Beckmann. In the Contemporary Painting section, the museum features mainly exhibitions of painters belonging to the Leipziger Schule, such as Bernhard Heisig, Werner Tübke and Wolfgang Mattheuer, as well as extensive collections by the movement's younger generation led by Neo Rauch and Daniel Richter.