While it may be at times overshadowed by its American and European sister cities, Berlin’s art scene is not one to be ignored. If you’re visiting (and still have time after exploring the older works at the mega-collections on Museum Island) be sure to check out these five spots for contemporary art that your guidebook might have left out.
By Harry Feldman
Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin, Germany
Over three-quarters of a mile long, this remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall is completely painted and lauded as the world’s longest open-air gallery. It was created in 1991 as a celebration of the reunification of the city and showcases the work of nearly one hundred artists. Now covered in signatures, stickers and spray paint, many of the murals are nearly indiscernible, and many artists have refused to recreate their works due to insufficient compensation. Nonetheless, the gallery demands both artistic and historic merit, and a walk along the wall is an absolute must for any trip to Berlin.
Reinhardtstraße 20, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The Boros Collection features works from the treasury of Karen and Christian Boros, who opened this gallery after purchasing and renovating a bunker from World War II. The current show consists primarily of German work, yet artists such as Ai Wei Wei and Danh Vō are also represented. No need to rush—each exhibit is up for four years. Advanced booking is necessary, but absolutely worth it.
Exhibition setup at Hamburger Bahnhof
Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin, Germany
This train station-cum-art museum is one of the best in the Millennium City. On top of any of the several shows on display during any given time, the museum has also been gifted substantial private collections that have brought important American works to Berlin. With rooms full of Warhol, Rauschenbergand Twombly, you’ll be surprised that you're not standing in the MoMA.
Courtesy of Bernd Borchardt
Auguststraße 68, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Opened in 2010 by German haircare mogul and fine art collector Thomas Olbricht, me Collectors Room was established to showcase international private collections in Berlin. An acronym that stands for “moving energies,” me regularly features new exhibitions with shows sourced completely from Olbricht’s own collection, which has been estimated to comprise somewhere between 2500 to 4000 works. Wunderkammer Olbricht, or Olbricht’s modern day take on a renaissance cabinet of curiosities, is also on permanent display—with ancient sculpture placed in tandem with contemporary photography, the trove narrates personal tastes and a life of collecting.
Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (which sits right next to Olbricht’s Collectors Room) is both a museum and a residency program for artists. Kunst-Werke is able to accomplish creative, if not outlandish, feats of curatorship without the bureaucracy nor the permanent collection of a traditional museum, In a bold move of transparency, the curator has taken a marker to the gallery walls, airing her grievances and edits to the space she was given. She points to irritating light switches, or drawing in windows that she wishes could be built. A trip to Kunst-Werke should be on your Berlin must-see list—just make certain that an exhibition is on display before you arrive.