In a building of the former train station, you'll find one of the world's best collections of contemporary art. Visit Hamburger Bahnhof museum and see art from the 1960s to the present day. Whether your interest is in Pop Art, Expressionism or Minimalism, the museum will help you understand how each art form has developed. Paintings sit alongside sculpture, video, installation and photography. The museum showcases some of the most important examples of modern art from the past six decades in a 13,000 square metre exhibition space.
The art of crossing boundaries
The art collections of Marx, Marzona and Flick now all belong to the Hamburger Bahnhof museum. The Nationalgalerie also shows its collection here. This modern art museum's history starts in the mid 1980s. The Nationalgalerie takes over the private art collection of building contractor Erich Marx, including world famous works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Anselm Kiefer. The local Berlin government decides on the old station building near the Berlin Wall as a home for this collection, but it remains heavily damaged after the Second World War and requires extensive renovation. Architect Joseph Paul Kleihues is contracted to carry out the reconstruction, and the museum opens its doors in 1996. The Nationalgalerie is home to works by Gerhard Richter, John Cage and Imi Knoebel. The aim of the museum is to encompass all artistic disciplines and to blur boundaries. Visitors will notice, for example, installation art by Michel Majerus, who uses imagery from computer games in his artwork.
The photography section is also outstanding, with works by influential photographers such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky. In 2002, Egidio Marzona's collection is also acquired by the museum, featuring conceptual art and Italian Arte Povera. Finally, collector Christian Flick makes a permanent loan of his collection to the museum, consisting of more than 1,500 works of art. Between and 2012, several pieces of this collection are donated to the museum. Exhibits can be found in Rieckhallen, a neighbouring building and the former warehouse of a freight company. The building alone is impressive: around 6,000 square metres in size, it has a simple black facade made of trapezoidal sheet metal. Flick's collection consists of conceptual art by artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Bruce Nauman, and media art by Nam June Paik.
Items not to be missed in the Hamburger Bahnhof
The Kleihueshalle with Andy Warhol's famous portrait of Mao.
The series of black and white photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher.
The monumental sculpture "The End of the 20th Century" by Joseph Beuys.
Gerhard Richter's colour experiment canvasses.
"Mohn und Gedächtnis", a lead plate jet engine sculpture by Anselm Kiefer.
Other things to see in the heart of the capital
Very close to the Hamburger Bahnhof is the government district. Take a look at the seat of power where Germany's most important decisions are made. Here you can walk past the Bundeskanzleramt, the Reichstag building, MPs offices and the Bundestag offices. It's worth making a detour to Berlin's main station, Berliner Hauptbahnhof, opened in 2006 and featuring modern architecture. The Museum für Naturkunde is also close by, its highlight being the skeleton of a Brachiosaurus. This is the largest dinosaur skeleton in the world and stands almost 14 metres tall. In the "Evolution in Action" section, don't miss the biodiversity wall where you can see over 3,000 animals from different habitats. From the museum, Tiergarten is a short distance and provides a space to relax in the open air. Tiergarten also features a beer garden and cafe beside the Neuen See Lake.
Tips from visitBerlin for your visit
It's easy to get to Hamburger Bahnhof using public transport. From the Berliner Hauptbahnhof, take the Europaplatz exit, and the museum is on the opposite side on Invalidenstraße. By car, the best car park is also at the main railway station. One of the best days to visit is Thursday, as Hamburger Bahnhof is open until 8pm. Children and young people up to the age of 18 can enter for free. With a Museumspass, you can explore the museum for free over three consecutive days. Groups up to 25 people can get special guided tours if they sign up in advance on the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin website.
Admission is free every Thursday of the month from 4 pm to 8 pm.