Right around Hackescher Markt, the touristy yet hip area in Berlin Mitte, lies Haus Schwarzenberg, an unpretentious space where Art and creativity are allowed to flourish. Festooned with graffiti, paintings and strange iron objects, in Haus Schwarzenberg you are likely to get lost in a bizarre maze of doors that lead way to varied and fascinating attractions: from a museum dedicated Anne Frank’s feelings to an old workshop for the blind, here you can easily spend a whole day without getting bored.
I remember the first time I went to Haus Schwarzenberg – it was in late October, not long after I first moved to Berlin. At the time, I confess I did not know what to expect from the place itself; of course, I had seen pictures and read some information about it, but nothing had prepared my little heart for the impact of surprise – as I set foot at Haus Schwarzenberg I was immediately blown away. As a matter of fact, despite being always packed with curious tourists, it is impossible not to fall in love with this sample of Berlin’s underground universe that promises a complete sensory experience.
Run by a nonprofit organization, (Schwarzenberg Association) Haus Schwarzenber history dates back to 1995 when an artistic group called the Dead Chickens moved in, “finding it a cheap and inspiring place to work”. In its early days, it was a huge playground for artists with hundreds of emerging project spaces and although there is not much left of the original spirit, Haus Schwarzenberg, as an independent art center, still values the promotion of ideas and cooperation between artists. There are always exhibitions going on and the Haus includes: Eschsloraque Rümschrümp – which sort of means “home” and is my favorite bar in Berlin; Cinema Central – never saw a movie there but looks very artsy, the Dead Chickens Museum “Monsterkabinett”; the Anne Frank Centre – a museum dedicated to the late teenager’s private life; the Museum Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind – who tells the story of how Otto Weidt, a small Berlin manufacturer, tried to save mostly blind and deaf Jewish workers by employing them; and the Neurotitan gallery and book shop.
The last one, Neurotitan gallery, is Haus Schwarzenberg’s own private gallery, and it has served as a platform for many independent artists that are now renowned artists all over the world. To get in, you only have to pay a symbolic fee and although small – and a little expensive for student’s pockets – the shop itself offers a good selection of comics, street art books and graphic novels, which are rarely found elsewhere.
Haus Schwarzenberg “was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight” and if you want to explore the parallel world by yourself, here is its address:
Haus Schwarzenberg, Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
Text: Matilde Velho Cabral, photos: Stella Manouseli
* * *
Matilde Velho Cabral is a Portuguese girl in love with the colorful corners of cities and the melancholic beauty of words. She published a poetry book, studied Law and recently moved to Berlin to do a MA in Convergent Journalism. She loves to communicate and wants to discover the intertwined patterns of those who inhabit Berlin. Often she likes to hear whale sounds and her favorite book is “Lolita”.