The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presides over a comprehensive collection of contemporary art, which it presents in a variety of exhibitions. The museum’s name refers to the building’s original function as one of the first terminal stations of the rail system in Germany. It opened as the terminus of the railway line between Hamburg and Berlin in December 1846. The building’s late Neoclassical style was conceived by the architect and railway pioneer Friedrich Neuhaus. It set an architectural precedent for the subsequent designs of Berlin’s train stations through the second half of the 19th century. Today it is preserved as the city’s only train station remaining from that time.
Despite several renovations to the building, the Hamburger Bahnhof could not keep pace with the increasing volume of traffic on the rails, and it closed in 1884. Over the next twenty years it would be used for residential and administrative purposes before it was finally re-designated as an exhibition hall in 1904, fittingly as a museum of transport and construction. The hall behind the entrance was added to accommodate this museum. The east wing of the cour d’honneur was built in 1909, and construction of the west wing began in 1914. Even amidst the turbulence of the First World War, the wing was finished by 1916, establishing today’s view of the building from Invalidenstraße. In 1943 however, during the Second World War, the building sustained severe damage. In the subsequent division of Germany, it remained unused for decades, located as it was in the no-man’s land between East and West Berlin.
In February 1984, the Hamburger Bahnhof was absorbed into the administration of West Berlin’s Senate and was partially restored to coincide with the city’s 750-year anniversary. The Bahnhof premiered the exhibition “Journey to Berlin” in 1987, marking the first time it had been used as a museum in over forty years. One year later, the Senate transferred oversight of the building to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Years later, after lengthy reconstruction by architect Josef Paul Kleihues, the Hamburger Bahnhof reopened on 2 November 1996 as a museum of contemporary art, the “Museum für Gegenwart”.
The museum expanded significantly to accommodate the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, presented to the museum in 2004 as a long-term loan. The former dispatch warehouses located behind the main building were renovated by the architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi and connected to the historical building via a passage. The resulting structures, which became known as Rieckhallen, nearly doubled the available exhibition space. Today the Nationalgalerie’s Hamburger Bahnhof division is one of the largest and most significant public collections of contemporary art in the world.
Contacts & Details
tue, wed, fri 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; thu 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; sat, sun 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Voice Before the Law
Nominated for the Turner Prize 2019, Lawrence Abu Hamdan (*1985 Amman, Jordan) is presenting his audiovisual...
26 Oct 2019 - 09 Feb 2020
Mariana Castillo Deball at Hamburger Bahnhof: Parergon
Beginning in September 2014, the artist Mariana Castillo Deball (b. 1975 in Mexico City) – who was...
20 Sep 2014 - 01 Mar 2015
Neue Galerie: The Black Years Histories of a Collection: 1933–1945
November 2015 sees the opening of the “Neue Galerie“: a new exhibition space at the Hamburger...
21 Nov 2015 - 31 Jul 2016
Günter Brus: Fault Zones
Since Günter Brus (born 1938 – lives in Graz) first appeared in public as an “actionist”...
12 Mar 2016 - 06 Jun 2016
Julian Rosefeldt: Manifesto
From February 10 to July 10, 2016, Nationalgalerie will present a solo show by Berlin based artist Julian...
10 Feb 2016 - 10 Jul 2016
Capital: Debt – Territory – Utopia
The exhibition “Capital: Debt – Territory – Utopia” revolves around Joseph Beuys‘s...
02 Jul 2016 - 06 Nov 2016
Anne Imhof: Angst II
Anne Imhof (b. in Gießen, 1978, lives in Frankfurt) will present her new production “Angst II”...
14 Sep 2016 - 25 Sep 2016
Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010
Encompassing more than 300 works, “Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010” is the largest...
05 Jun 2016 - 16 Sep 2016
Gülsün Karamustafa: Chronographia
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Chronographia”, a solo exhibition...
10 Jun 2016 - 15 Jan 2017
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Hieroglyphics
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Hieroglyphics”, an exhibition organized...
23 Sep 2016 - 26 Feb 2017
Adrian Piper: The Probable Trust Registry | The Rules of the Game #1-3
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “The Probable Trust Registry: The Rules of...
24 Feb 2017 - 03 Sep 2017
Hanne Darboven: Correspondences
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Correspondences”, a solo exhibition,...
19 May 2017 - 27 Aug 2017
Raimund Kummer: Sublunar Interference
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Sublunar Interference”, a solo exhibition...
27 Apr 2017 - 06 Aug 2017
Moving is in Every Direction: Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Moving is in Every Direction. Environments...
17 Mar 2017 - 17 Sep 2017
Rudolf Belling: Sculptures and Architectures
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart presents “Sculptures and Architectures”, a solo...
08 Apr 2017 - 17 Sep 2017
Agnieszka Polska: The Demon’s Brain
The Demon’s Brain is the solo exhibition of the artist Agnieszka Polska, set up in the ambience of...
27 Sep 2018 - 03 Mar 2019
How to Talk with Birds, Trees, Fish, Shells, Snakes, Bulls and Lions
The exhibition started from a conversation between late Senegalese artist Issa Samb and the trans-disciplinary...
16 Nov 2018 - 12 May 2019