photos: Keith Telfeyan
Hamburger Bahnhof is perhaps Berlin’s best space to see contemporary art. When friends or family visit from out of town, this is the perfect contrast to the more traditional offerings on Museum Island, and there always seems to be an interesting event happening there, making it a regular spot for local friends as well. The permanent collection is world class, and the architecture is uniquely awesome – it is indeed a former train station, and the museum designers did well to convert the halls and long corridor into a sort of shrine for big ideas and creative feelings.
It’s not the only place in the city for modern and contemporary art, but it is perhaps the most reliable. The Sammlung Boros collection in an old bunker, for instance, is spectacular, but good luck getting tickets to see it – they sell out months in advance, and you have to be part of a guided tour. Me Collectors Room and KW Institute on Auguststrasse are both solid as well, but their artist roster is a little less established and thus riskier – they’re more like casual art galleries that happen to charge admission. And of course there are plenty of contemporary galleries peppered throughout the city, but again: the quality of work is not quite on the level of the most established, accessible art space. The collection at Hamburger Bahnhof includes master works from Joseph Beuys, Cy Twombly, Bruce Nauman and Andy Warhol among countless others.
For the price of admission – roughly equivalent to a cinema outing – one can spend a whole day at Hamburger Bahnhof, especially in its long, cavernous wing. It goes on forever! The architecture itself is something to behold: it has an out-of-time feel with its old brick and tall ceilings and paint job from perhaps the ’70s. And yet, as distinctive as the structure is, it doesn’t detract from the art at all. On the contrary, it heightens it somehow. The works throughout – curated thematically from the collection – have room to breath.
For more information about the museum’s impressive roster of big names in the rotating collection and other goings-on, visit their website. And see which temporary exhibitions are on display.