The museum is devoted exclusively to the group of artists called "Brücke". The group was founded in 1905 in Dresden by four students: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel. It is the oldest group of German artists to have a decisive impact on the development of 20th century art. Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde joined in 1906 and Otto Mueller in 1910. The Brücke´s pictorial language and critical attitude towards traditional academic painting fostered a movement, later called Expressionism. This movement, aside from its artistic achievements also came to express a new awareness of life and freedom from rules and oppression by bourgeois society. It was soon endorsed by poets, writers and composers.
Expressionism sought to be a pure expression of colour and form. Nature is visible in the paintings of the Brücke and becomes the vehicle for a condition, an inner emotion. The purpose of the artist is not to create an image of objects but to convey an internal concept: visible reality is transformed, reduced to what is essential and colour undergoes a process of abstraction. This approach is applied wildly in bold planes and breaks free from the natural colours of the object, thus acquiring independent value. Brücke Expressionism was not confined to painting, it also appears in drawings and the graphic arts.
The Brücke-Museum in Berlin, whose collection is entirely devoted to the works of the Brücke artists, demonstrates the birth of modernism in a unique fashion. The museum was opened to the public in 1967. The core of the collection was a generous donation by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff to the city of Berlin; Erich Heckel also supported the museum with extensive donations. The collection then was systematically enlarged by subsequent acquisitions. Today the Brücke-Museum owns around 400 paintings and sculptures as well as several thousand drawings, watercolours and prints from all creative periods of the "Brücke" artists.