A Place for Witchcraft and Espionage in BERLIN’s New Museums

Berlin’s cultural landscape of 180 museums and collections keeps growing, as new special interest museums open and others complete renovations.

magicum_hexenschrecken-4x Creepy objects in the cellar © MAGICUM Berlin – Berlin Magic Museum

Magicum Berlin Magic Museum
Go way beyond Harry Potter and get spooked at Magicum. Witchcraft and magical powers, mythical knowledge, secrets, ancient wisdom, and the supernatural can all be explored in the cellars of a historic former blacksmith building close to Berlin’s Hackesche Market. Open since summer 2014, the magic museum features some 450 exhibits throughout 6500 square feet. Included are ritualistic objects and magic devices, ranging from a Dutch witch’s scale and torture instruments to African totem masks, crystal balls, and a historic Samurai sword. Curated to be more entertaining than strictly academic, the spellbinding exhibition encourages intuitive exploration. Open daily.

Berlin Spy Museum (opening date still secret)
Espionage has been the subject of many movies and books set in Berlin. Now the city is finally getting a museum that focuses on the mysteries of agents, double agents, betrayals, heroes and their stories, as well as the tools they used. The Berlin Spy Museum will feature approximately 21,500 square feet of exhibition space. One of the better-known pieces on display will be the famous German coding machine “Enigma” from World War II, which was used for enciphering and deciphering secret messages. The exhibition will unveil the mysteries of intelligence services and espionage in the East and the West with a focus on Berlin during WWII and the Cold War. The interactive exhibits cater to all age groups, including children.

Kunsthaus Dahlem, Foto © Robert Conrad Kunsthaus Dahlem, Foto © Robert Conrad

Kunsthaus Dahlem (opens summer 2015)
Following extensive renovations, the Kunsthaus Dahlem will open in the summer of 2015 as an exhibition venue for Postwar German Modernism from East and West Germany (1945-61). The opening exhibition will focus primarily on sculptural works, complemented by paintings, graphics, and photography. The historic building was constructed between 1939 and 1942 as a studio for infamous sculptor Arno Breker, who, alongside Josef Thorak, was one of the popular sculptors of the Third Reich, producing ornamental sculptures for Albert Speer’s monumental constructions. In addition to a café and a museum shop, there will also be a permanent exhibition about the building’s eventful past. Free admission.

Tchoban Foundation – Museum for Architectural Drawings
Open since 2013 at the former Pfefferberg Brewery complex, the private Museum for Architectural Drawings houses the renowned Tchoban Foundation’s collection as well as temporary exhibits from leading international cultural institutions. Conceived by Berlin and Moscow-based architect Sergei Tchoban, the museum presents three changing exhibitions annually. The architecturally striking building extends from a firewall, seemingly latching onto a row of typical Berlin houses. Evoking a set of oversized blocks, the four-story building’s silhouette is defined by a regression and progression of a colored concrete and glass façade. Open daily.

dresses from the 1960s Display of 1960s dresses © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum

Museum of Decorative Arts Open Again at Kulturforum
After three years of renovations, Germany’s oldest museum of decorative arts, the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, reopened in November 2014 with a new gallery dedicated to the history of fashion. Located at Berlin’s Kulturforum museum complex, the new permanent exhibition of dresses, hats, bags, gloves and accessories from the 18th to the 21st century is based on an international collection acquired in 2009. Since its re-opening, the Kunstgewerbemuseum has been providing an overview of the key achievements in European design, from the Middle Ages to the present day. In addition to the Fashion Gallery, the museum features new departments of design and art deco.

After a yearlong modernization, the Berlinische Gallery is scheduled to reopen on May 28, 2015. The Gallery’s permanent exhibition focuses exclusively on Art in Berlin from 1880 – 1980, ranging from late 19th century paintings, to Expressionism and the East European avant-garde, to post-war modern architecture and the “wild” works of the Seventies. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the collection, the show will illustrate a diversity of artistic styles and credos, but also tensions, polarization and fresh departures, which remain hallmarks of Berlin as an artistic hub.

Two more temporary exhibitions are scheduled to open on May 25, 2015: Radically Modern, which focuses on building styles in the 1960s, and another about contemporary German painter Bernhard Martin. A retrospective on Max Beckmann and Berlin will open November 20, 2015 and is poised to be a major highlight of Berlin’s cultural winter next year.

blkwht_450W Radically Modern exhibit © Berlinische Galerie, Dieter Urbach

Two more temporary exhibitions are scheduled to open on May 25, 2015: Radically Modern, which focuses on building styles in the 1960s, and another about contemporary German painter Bernhard Martin. A retrospective on Max Beckmann and Berlin will open November 20, 2015 and is poised to be a major highlight of Berlin’s cultural winter next year.

Pergamon Altar Closed for Renovations Until 2019, Ishtar Gate Remains Open.
The Pergamon Museum’s impressive reconstructions of massive archaeological structures have made it the most visited museum in Berlin. It houses three of the National Museums’ major collections – the Antiquities Collections, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum for Islamic Art. Every year, some 1.4 million visit the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon. Due to extensive renovations, the Pergamon Altar will be closed until 2019; however, the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon will remain open during this time.

For more information on museums or traveling to Berlin, click here.

Comments

  1. You mention the new spy museum – about which there have been rumours for some years. Many experienced Berlin journalists believe that this is an elaborate April Fools joke, a wonderful flight of fancy that will never (and was never intended to come) to fruition. The company that purported to have an interest has been persistently evasive, brushing off enquires – even to the pouint of rudeness. The website, which once had a page of text, now has nothing. Merely a message saying that the site is in maintenance mode.

  2. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We contacted a Visit Berlin official who said that the museum is in construction right now and is scheduled to open in the 4th quarter of 2015. They also understand and can relate to your frustration, as the opening has been pushed back a few times.

    Liz Laing
    Editor, Wandermelon

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