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General view from the northwest, January 2009

General view from the northwest, January 2009

place Berlin-Kreuzberg
architect Martin Gropius , Heino Schmieden
Client Magistrate of Berlin
Architectural style Neo-renaissance
Construction year 1877-1881
Coordinates 52 ° 30 '23 "  N , 13 ° 22' 55"  E Coordinates: 52 ° 30 '23 "  N , 13 ° 22' 55"  E

The Martin-Gropius-Bau , the former Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin , is an exhibition house in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg , which houses large temporary exhibitions. The building is located at Niederkirchnerstrasse  7. It is right on the border with the Mitte district and until 1990 was located directly on the Berlin Wall on the West Berlin side.

The Berliner Festspiele have been running the Martin-Gropius-Bau since 2001 on behalf of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media . The heads of seven institutions advise the program:

The respective organizers are responsible for the exhibitions. Art historian Stephanie Rosenthal , who previously worked as a curator at the Hayward Gallery in London , has been the director of the exhibition house since February 1, 2018 . Her predecessor in office was Gereon Sievernich .


The building was built between 1877 and 1881 according to plans and under the direction of the architects Martin Gropius (a great-uncle of the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius ) and Heino Schmieden in the style of the Italian Renaissance . It was created in close context, both in terms of content and location, with other museums such as the Museum of Ethnology , also known as the Museum Quarter .

Conceived as a arts and crafts museum, the building housed the museum for prehistory and early history, as well as the East Asian art collection and a arts and crafts school in a building to the east. Here young people could learn to carve or join a cabinet.

In 1943, when the center of Berlin was bombed in World War II , the museum building suffered severe damage, and demolition of the ruins after the end of the war seemed inevitable. The intervention of Walter Gropius stopped the project and ultimately led to the building being listed as a historical monument in 1966 and taking the name of its main architect.

During the division of the city, the Martin-Gropius-Bau was on the West Berlin side directly on the Berlin Wall , on the left the building of the Prussian Landtag in East Berlin , as it was in 1986

Reconstruction began in 1978 under the direction of the architect Winnetou Kampmann and his wife Ute Weström . Since the Berlin Wall ran directly in front of the main portal, the access was relocated to the southern rear. They also built galleries on the second floor . During the construction work, the house was re-inaugurated in 1981 with a Schinkel exhibition.

Further renovation and renovation work with federal funds took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after German reunification , between 1998 and 2000. The original entrance situation on the north side was restored. The building also received air conditioning. The planning of the renovation was in the hands of the architects Hilmer & Sattler and Albrecht as well as Volkhausen and Lubkoll .

In 1999 the house was reopened with an exhibition on the 50-year history of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Aerial view from the HiFlyer Berlin

From mid-2018, the director had another redesign carried out in consultation with those responsible for culture. In the atrium , foils and screens in front of the windows were removed so that a lot of daylight can actually enter. The slightly arched glass ceiling is hung with a large-area network shaped like a light cloud, the design of which comes from the artist Chiharu Shiota. Books, manuscript pages and documents on the history of the house are caught in it as if by chance. To the left of the entrance stairs are former living and working rooms, which, according to the director's idea, are used for an Artists in Residence project . Invited artists will practice on site every year and offer their objects for sale at the same time. In addition, the small bookshop in the foyer was enlarged and a café was set up. In coordination with the operators , the Berlin company infarm has set up infarming cabinets in the room, in which various herbs can be grown in front of the visitors and processed on site. The interior of the café is reserved in black and white. After this renovation, the atrium can be entered without having to visit an exhibition at the same time.


Former floor plan of the ground floor (as an arts and crafts museum)
Former floor plan of the 1st floor

The palace - like four - storey building has an almost square floor plan. Its structure forms a cube , in the middle of which is the atrium with sides of around 70 meters and a height of around 26 meters. Later assessments by construction experts recognize strong influences of Schinkel's construction methods in the architectural style, especially the model of the Bauakademie , ideas by Gottfried Semper can also be read out. The architectural historian Manfred Klinkott assessed the museum building as follows: "The exhibition building itself was conceived as an architectural model, which, through the use of various manufacturing processes, should capture many branches of craftsmanship and unite them in a great composition."

The north and south sides of the house - each parallel to the (then) Prinz-Albrecht-Straße - are divided into seven building axes, the east and west facades show symmetrically arranged eight axes. The front side is the north facade, in which the gabled portal forms the center via a wide access staircase with a driveway. This facade also has particularly rich sculptural building decorations made of sandstone and terracotta . The south side, on the other hand, is hardly decorated, but also has a stairwell similar to risalit .

The base of the ground floor is clad with Belgian granite . The upper floors are equipped with light and dark red bricks blinded. The fourth floor is a mezzanine floor , the space between the windows is decorated with golden mosaics and the coats of arms of German countries. The flat roof is finished with a protruding terracotta cornice.

Large-format three-part windows on the exhibition floors with flat triangular gables placed above them shape the character of the exhibition building.

The sculptural works are by Ludwig Brunow , Otto Geyer , Emil Hundrieser , Otto Lessing , Rudolf Siemering and Louis Sussmann-Hellborn . Ernst Ewald and Friedrich Geselschap also provided designs for the decoration of the mezzanine floor .

According to experts, the arrangement inside the building with vestibule, atrium and the rear central staircase should be based on the Vienna Museum of Art and Industry, which was planned by Heinrich von Ferstel in 1867–1871 .

Here, too, numerous decorative elements surprise visitors, in the manufacture of which the above-mentioned artists were also involved. The exhibition rooms have easy-to-clean terrazzo floors or are covered with colored tiles and carpet-like mosaic patterns.

Architectural history tours are offered regularly in the house.

Exhibitions (selection)

See also


  • Büttner: The extension of the Royal Museum of Applied Arts in Berlin. In: Journal of Construction . Volume 58 (1908), col. 509-528, plates 58-61.
  • Winnetou Kampmann, Ute Weström: Martin Gropius Bau. The story of its restoration. Prestel, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-7913-2061-0 .
  • Senator for Building and Housing (Ed.): The Martin-Gropius-Bau. (=  Berlin builds , 5.) Berlin 1988.

Web links

Commons : Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Architectural monument formerly arts and crafts museum with teaching institution and library
  2. ^ Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 7> Museum of Prehistory and Early History, East Asian Art Collection, State Art Library . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1940, IV, p. 693 (A house inspector, the museum supervisor and a machinist lived in the house).
  3. On the death of the Berlin architect Winnetou Kampmann - urban planner and art patron. In: Berliner Zeitung , February 24, 2001.
  4. a b c d Georg Dehio : Handbook of German art monuments. Berlin. Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2006, ISBN 3-422-03111-1 , pp. 303-305.
  5. a b Mechthild Henneke: “The atrium is finally an atrium”. In: Berliner Zeitung , March 25, 2019. p. 16. (print edition)
  6. Quoted in the Berlin monument database .
  7. ^ The Egypt exhibition ended - 450,000 in the Gropius building. In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 5, 2006.
  8. Anish Kapoor in Berlin ( Memento of the original from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Germaine Krull in the Gropius-Bau - revolutionary photographer. October 15, 2015 to January 31, 2016
  10. She never blinked . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung , April 10, 2016. p. 48.