The Kulturforum in Berlin is something of a curate's egg. It is incomplete in terms of what its original architect, Hans Scharoun, intended. Partly for that reason it is in visual terms a bit like an upmarket light industrial estate with relatively low level modernist buildings apparently scattered around an open area with little clear sense of order. Moreover there are steps, stairways and ramps everywhere making the site a challenge for anyone with a mobility difficulty. However set against these criticisms the idea of bringing together a modern concert hall (Philharmonie, 1963), the Kunstgewerbe or museum of applied art (1968; currently closed for refurbishment until 2014), the Kupferstichkabinett (1988), with prints, drawings and musical instruments, and the Gemaldegalerie (1998), a world class collection of paintings from the end of the Middle Ages to around 1800, is a good one. It accordingly offers the chance for the visitor to concentrate their visit in much the same way as Berlin's Museuminsel does farther to the north-east of the city.
The Gemaldegalerie has a good restraurant, and a museum shop offering popular as well as scholarly books, prints and postcards.
It's a great example of an urban artists' collective, situated in an old crumbling department store from the turn of the century in the middle of the up-and-coming mitte district.
It houses many artists' galleries and workspaces where the public are free to wander and these are often turned into venues for impromptu parties.
There is a great outside space dotted with sculptures and beer served from an old VW van in the back and there's a cafe inside serving food from breakfasts to supper and coffees and hot chocolates and also a venue for live music. A wonderful space just to hang out.
Oranienburger Str. 54
This is one of the world's great art galleries, with a masterpiece every few metres. The building is new (part of the Kulturforum) and is a pleasure to visit in itself.
The collection includes European painting and sculpture from the Middle Ages to about 1800.
Stauffenbergstrasse 40, a short walk from Potsdamerplatz (S and U-bahn) or Bus 200. Near the Berlinphilharmonie and many other places of interest.
In the old east part of town, this is a large old, somewhat derelict and entertaining art workshop. It has a lively bar, with huge garden and installations.
It is on Oraniensburgerstrasse, opposite the bar Obst und Gemuse (literally fruit and veg!)
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