Max Pechstein’s first artworks – initially works on paper – were acquired by Hildebrand Gurlitt (museum director 1925–1930) in 1925. The young director sought to set up a collection of contemporary art. Thanks to his efforts the museum was able to acquire two Pechstein paintings in 1926, among them the painting ‘Still life with fruit bowl’ (1912) still owned by the museum. During the National Socialist era and former GDR the museum did not acquire any further Pechstein paintings, except for ‘Sunflowers’ from 1948 which could be acquired from private ownership in 1975.
Only since the mid-1990s the collection has been expanded with important works such as the two-sided painting ‘Floral still life with calla/Floral still life with mask from New Ireland’ (1917) or the Palau painting ‘Chogealls’ (1917). As being strongly committed to Pechstein and his artwork in recent years the museum was also able to enrich its own holdings by important loans from private ownership.
Furthermore the collection comprises more than 150 drawings, watercolors and prints as well as applied works and more than 450 letters and postcards illustrated by the artist himself; these are considered important documents for art history research. The museum presents this outstanding component of the Pechstein collection primarily in temporary exhibitions and thus continuously highlights particular aspects of his work.