One of Berlin’s best venues for contemporary art is Hamburger Bahnhof and this weekend, in celebration of its 20th anniversary it is offering free entrance to everyone! The distinctive neo-classical building is much loved Berlin and has had numerous lives. Originally built in the mid 1800s as the Berlin – Hamburg railway terminus, it is now one of the oldest surviving terminus buildings in Germany and still retains the atmosphere of a grand station as you walk into the historic hall to see one of the museum’s many interesting installations.
The station fell out of use and then became a railway museum for most of the 20th century, even managing to avoid considerable damage during the intense allied bombing of WWII in Berlin. The terminus and most of the railway collection survived relatively unscathed. It’s life as a contemporary art museum began in the mid 1980s and in 1996, Hamburger Bahnhof became an official extension to the National Gallery, under the operation of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
By this time it had acquired an impressive collection, including the private collections of notable figures such as Berlin entrepreuner Erich Marx and German-Swiss collector Friedrich Christian Flick. Today it has a vast permanent colletcion and some of the world’s most prestigious works come feature throughout the year in exhibition.
For the anniversary celebration, along with its permanent collection there will be additions to the usual exhibition programme including Christoph Büchel’s installation Training Ground for Training Ground for Democracy in the historic hall (part of the Flick collection and not usually on display) and the SCORES series of Music Works by Visual Artists such as Saâdane Afif, Christian Marclay, Ari Benjamin Meyers and Jorinde Voigt (closing November 13).
Current exhibitions can also be enjoyed including Robert Indiana’s Imperial Love – an iconic pop art piece in the courtyard and the much talked about Manifesto by Julian Rosenfeldt (starring Cate Blanchett). CAPITAL. DEBT – TERRITORY – UTOPIA can be enjoyed for the final time as it closes after this weekend along with Turkish artist Karamustafa’s solo exhibition, which runs until mid January next year.
In a nod to the museum’s history, the free entrance weekend is being made possible by its original benefactor Erich Marx, whose private collection was the first donated and led the Berlin Senate’s decision to exhibit it at Hamburger Bahnhof, paving the way for today’s museum which is home to one of the world’s most significant contemporary art collections.
Those attending can get into the spirit of the celebration by sharing pictures on social media with the hashtag #20yearsoflove.