The collection represents artistic developments in Germany that reflect transnational positions in modernism. The concept of cultural internationality is illuminated by such examples as the programme of Herwarth Walden’s Sturm gallery in Berlin and the Bauhaus school.

The exhibition also looks at the völkische (‘folk’) art of the Nazi period, providing a contrast to the progressive movements of the Weimar Republic.

One of the earliest acquisitions was Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s self-portrait "The Drinker", a major work of Expressionism that the artist painted at the beginning of the First World War in response to the blind nationalistic fervour that abounded at this time.

The period after 1945 is represented by works from the art movements of Art Informel and Fluxus in West Germany as well as works by East German artists.