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Plans for new Klee museum in Bern to go ahead

Architect Renzo Piano can now go ahead with his project for the new museum

(Keystone)

The people of Bern have voted in favour of the construction of an art museum on the outskirts of the city to accommodate the works of Paul Klee. The proposal was approved by just under 78 per cent of the electorate.

The voters supported a move for the local government to pay more than SFr11 million, paving the way for the new museum's construction, scheduled to begin within a year.

Models of the planned Paul Klee Centre show that it will consist only of three "hills" smoothly emerging from the landscape, in harmony with its natural surroundings.

In fact, the architect, Renzo Piano, and his team have designed a sophisticated high-tech structure, which includes steel arches and wooden materials. It is to be constructed in such a way that the amount of outside light can be controlled so as to do justice to the works of one of the most original and influential figures in modern art.

Klee was born near Bern in 1879 and died in 1940 having lived more than half of his life in the city.

Two remarkable offers turned the dream of building a shrine to his painting career into reality. The Klee family said it would donate a substantial number of art works by him to the public - on condition that a Klee museum was built by 2006.

Then a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon, Professor Maurice Müller, and his wife Martha pledged SFr60 million ($36 million), including land, towards the cost of a Paul Klee Centre.

It will be much more than a museum. "It is my greatest wish," says Müller, "that it will also be a research centre with classrooms. Paul Klee himself was a great teacher."

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