Berlin is known worldwide for its cultural and artistic facet. Here is a list of the best galleries and museums worth visiting when you are in the city.
In recent years Berlin has become the meeting point for young creatives, earning the well-deserved reputation of being one of the world’s most important and influential cities in the field of art and design.
Although the days of the Weimar Republic and the Bauhaus movement are behind us, Berlin remains at the forefront of contemporary culture. In no particular order, these are some of the most influential spaces of art and culture that Berlin offers the visitor.
The most influential art spaces
Here are some of the art spaces that everyone talks about. You can’t miss them when you visit the city!
Berlin Jewish Museum
I visited this iconic museum the first time I travelled to Berlin and come back here every time someone visits me in the city, as it is at the top of my list of recommendations. It narrates the darkest part of the country’s history through the architecture of Daniel Libeskind and the carefully selected art installations on display. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum has temporary exhibitions linked to contemporary themes of interest.
The Bauhaus movement can still be seen in today’s Berlin aesthetics. Walter Gropius, a pioneer of modernist architecture, created this collection with the support of several colleagues. The collection consists both of works still in progress and finished pieces related to Bauhaus architecture. They are displayed in chronological order to show the progress of this movement.
The architectural history behind this building and all the activities organised in it make Hamburger BHF a must-see. The neoclassical building dates back to 1846 and in fact once housed a train station that served as a precedent for the following stations of the time. Located in the only remaining of those times, this museum of contemporary art is part of the National Gallery of Berlin.
Museum of Photography/ Helmut Newton Foundation
The museum’s permanent exhibition houses a wide and varied compilation of works by fashion photographers from Berlin. The exhibits generally praise Newton or refer to any aspect of fashion, so it goes without saying that this museum is a must for fashion photography enthusiasts.
Julia Stoschek Collection
This space opened in the summer of 2016 inside a communist building that was once the Czech cultural centre of East Germany. It revolves around art based on moving images from the 1960s to the present day.
KW Institute of Contemporary Art
Although it is one of Berlin’s leading art institutions, the KW Institute does not have a permanent collection. In return, the site has various programs to connect with its audience in different ways. At the Berlin Biennale it becomes a protagonist, as both institutions share a founding director.
Located inside the former church of St. Agnes, König Gallery is perfect for a sunny summer day. Not in vain, you can sit in the charming sculpture garden between the exhibition halls. König is also one of Germany’s most influential galleries and its works of art have found their way into important museums such as the MoMA or the Guggenheim.
Me Collectors Room
Located on Auguststrasse, the Me Collectors Room is practically next to the KW Institute. This space prides itself on making contemporary art accessible to anyone who is interested in it by displaying duly selected quality exhibits. A cafeteria in the centre of the room undoubtedly contributes to the relaxed atmosphere.
Hidden art spaces
By hidden spaces I do not mean that the following places are secret, as they are as influential (in some cases, even more so) than the sites mentioned above. What I mean is that they are hidden to the extent that anyone who visits them for the first time might become discouraged and think they have come to the wrong place.
I mentioned this bunker turned into an art gallery in my first article about Berlin and I have to mention it again because there is no other space like it. I consider it a hidden space for the simple reason that you need to book an appointment to visit the collection well in advance. I recommend booking as soon as you have bought your flight.
Located in the art gallery district, KOW made a big impression during the Gallery Weekend with Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2016, which occupied all three levels of the site.
One of the most timely exhibitions I have ever seen, Love Story features actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore wrapped in a fluid narrative with several stories linked to refugees. To access the gallery, you’ll have to go through the backyard and up the stairs to the second floor, where you’ll find the entrance.