Housed within a former margarine factory in the Scheunenviertel neighbourhood, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art provides space for both local and international works. Spread across four floors, you will find regularly rotating exhibitions within the converted rooms. As a space for progressive and innovative artistic practice, the gallery champions pieces with political and social themes. Additionally, the KW Institute was responsible for the launch of the Berlin Biennale, one of the capital's foremost art festivals since 1998.
From margarine factory to meeting place for contemporary art
In the early '90s, Klaus Biesenbach, now director of the New York MoMa PS1, rents the building of the former margarine factory. Together with a young and artistically minded group, he rapidly develops the KW Institute into a permanent feature of the Berlin art scene. Through its involvement with the Berlin Biennale, Biesenbach brings worldwide recognition to the institute. In order to be as flexible and open as possible, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art consciously rejects the concept of a permanent collection. In this way, current trends within the international art scene can be easily integrated into the rotating exhibitions. The gallery experiments with new formats, ideas and content, positioning itself as a laboratory designed to explore the space between artist and audience. Here, many outstanding artists have presented their work, including Harun Farocki, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Matthew Barney. The building itself centres around a main square in which Dan Graham's stylish glass and steel Cafe Bravo stands. Behind the listed facade of the front building, the studios and exhibition rooms are spread throughout the converted space. In 2016, as part of wider renovations, a wooden spiral staircase, that connects the exhibition room on the first floor to the ground floor, was installed. Here, high vaulted ceilings featuring exposed arches can be found. Since the renovation, the institute has concentrated on open events for visitors, presenting a series of free performances, lectures and readings. Additionally, larger events are regularly organised in collaboration with partners such as Documenta in Kassel or the Venice Biennale. This exhibition space will undergo further renovation under fresh direction of Krist Gruijthuisen, extending the space by a further two floors.
Highlights of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art
- Rotating exhibitions of both local and international contemporary artists.
- Weekly series The Weekend offering free performances, lectures and readings.
- Expansive courtyard featuring Cafe Bravo designed by Dan Graham.
- Exhibition venue of Berlin Biennale.
- Listed building with historic facade.
More art in the Scheunenviertel
Augustraße in the Scheunenviertel is home to numerous galleries. In particular, the Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation is worth a visit, showcasing the paintings, graphics, photographs and films of the eponymous artist. In addition to the archive, the gallery exhibits contemporary photos and media from other artists. Next, the Galerie Eigen + Kunst showcases contemporary art in a variety of forms including conceptual art, painting, sculpture and performance. The gallery also offers the opportunity for young artists to display their work.
Our Tips for Your Visit
The KW Institute for Contemporary Art is accessible via the Oranienburger Straße S-Bahn station using the S1, S2 and S25 trains. The station is just 300 metres from the gallery. Alternatively, buses M1 and M5 can be taken. From Oranienburger Tor (U6), Weinmeisterstraße (U8) or Rosenthaler Platz (U8), the gallery is about a 10 minute walk. The gallery is closed on Tuesdays. Free admission is available on Thursday evenings. Groups of 10 or more get reduced admission.
Find further information here