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Hamburger Bahnhof is the home of the Berlin Museum of Contemporary Art. Located at Invalidenstrasse 50-51 in the city of Berlin, the building, a former rail terminus, was opened in 1996 to form the first permanent home for the National Gallery’s collection of contemporary art.

Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof 1

From 1847 the station was the starting point for the Berlin to Hamburg railway, and is the only remaining terminus in Berlin from the late neoclassical period. The building was last used as a station in 1884 when traffic was moved to the nearby Hauptbahnhof. In 1906 the station was converted to hold the Royal Museum for Traffic and Construction. Later after the fall of the Prussian monarchy, the “Royal” part of the title was dropped.

Hamburger Bahnhof 2

Between 1909 and 1916 new wings were added, but the building was damaged in World War II during the bombing of Berlin, and museum closed. After the war, despite being within the British sector, the building remained in the control of East Germany who had little interest in reopening a museum in the British sector, so it remained closed until 1987 when it was reopened as a centre for temporary exhibitions.

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In 1987 the Hamhurger Bahnhof came under the control of the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage who ran a design competition for the buildings conversion. In 1989 architect Josef Paul Kleihues won the competition to convert the museum for multi-functional use.

A large central space has been formed from which the other parts of the building can be accessed. The ground floor of the west wing is home to a permanent exhibition of the works of Joseph Beuys. The east wing is the location of an events area and an area for refreshments. The galleries, as well as the large central space are used for special exhibitions, many of which can be quite spectacular.

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The museum concentrates on art from 1960 onwards. One of great visitor attractions is the Erich Marx collection which includes around sixty drawings by Andy Warhol and in excess of 450 drawings by joseph Beuys, as well as items by, amongst others, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rausschenberg.

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The museum is a blend of old architectural design and the new with emphasis on clean geometric design especially in relation to the use of Glass and steel. The minimalist design of the displays only enhances the effect. It is not hard to see why the Hamburger Bahnhof is on a “must see” list for many visitors to Berlin.