Special exhibitions in Berlin’s Contemporary Art Museum include artists Katharina Grosse, Michael Schmidt and Pauline Curnier Jardin in addition to the museum’s own extensive collection.
In 2020, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin will host a variety of temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The main exhibition — Magical Soup — draw mostly on works from the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Friedrich Christian Flick collection. Solo artists with special temporary exhibitions in the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2020 include Katharina Grosse, Michael Schmidt and Pauline Curnier Jardin. Admission tickets are usually around €14 – some temporary exhibitions may be seen independently for less. The Berlin Museum Pass and Welcome Card All-Inclusive are also valid.
Berlin’s Museum for Contemporary Art (Museum für Gegenwart) is housed in the Hamburger Bahnhof – not far from Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof. It used a variety of temporary exhibitions to display sections of the vast collection of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and loaned works.
The main contemporary art exhibitions in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2020 include:
2 April – 16 August 2020
The group exhibition Magical Soup. Media artworks in the collection of the Nationalgalerie, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection and selected loans explores social, political, spatial, bodily and imaginary borders. Music and sounds make up a combined point of departure for the works of media art, installations and works on paper featured in the exhibition, ranging from the 1970s through to the present day.
On display are works by pioneers of media art such as Nam June Paik, Jochen Gerz, Charlemagne Palestine, Ulrike Rosenbach and Keiichi Tanaami, by multimedia artists such as Nevin Aladag, Stan Douglas, Cyprien Gaillard, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Anne Imhof, Pipilotti Rist, Diana Thater, Lawrence Weiner, Nicole Wermers and David Zink Yi, as well as contemporary contributions from Korakrit Arunanondchai, Trisha Baga, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Christine Sun Kim, Sandra Mujinga and Sung Tieu.
Katharina Grosse. It wasn’t us
24 April – 4 October 2020
With her spectacular site-specific paintings that she fabricates with air guns and vibrant acrylic paints, Katharina Grosse (born 1961 in Freiburg) assumes a central position in contemporary art. Her large-scale works present themselves as pulsating, three-dimensional visual worlds that incorporate the walls, ceiling and floor of the exhibition space. Everything becomes the canvas for these paintings and is seized by a vibrating charge of colour that disrupts our typical conception of reality and opens up previously unimagined spheres of possibility. Grosse’s works, which the viewer can walk through, are produced in interior and exterior spaces, and reflect upon our interaction with institutional and urban spaces.
In 2020, the artist will use the historical hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof along with sections of the museum’s grounds for a new work that incorporates sculptural elements and radically destabilises and renegotiates the existing order of the space of the museum.
Michael Schmidt – Retrospective. Photographs 1965–2014
21 May – 25 October 2020
A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with the Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst with the Archiv Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt (1945–2014) occupies a unique position in contemporary German photography. Born in Berlin and with no formal training in photography, in the mid-1960s he discovered the medium as a form of artistic expression. For each of his series, Schmidt developed an individual photographic method of accessing reality.
This retrospective at the Hamburger Bahnhof presents his life’s work chronologically, and is the first survey exhibition of the photographer in his hometown of Berlin in 25 years. Along with the series Waffenruhe (1987), Einheit (1996), Lebensmittel (2012) and other original photographs, unpublished working prints, book drafts and archive material illustrate the development of Schmidt’s artistic work, which has been seminal for a younger generation of photographers due to its continual exploration and innovation.
Preis der Nationalgalerie 2019: Pauline Curnier Jardin
November 2020 – May 2021
Pauline Curnier Jardin is the winner of the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2019. In November 2020, her solo exhibition will be held at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, where she will present the narrative diversity of her artistic praxis in large-scale spatial works. Jardin’s film and installational language often references ancient, myth-like stories, which she then pierces and deconstructs, opening up a perception of the world that leaves us at once overwhelmed and unsettled.
The Preis der Nationalgalerie is awarded every two years and recognizes the work of artists under 40 who live and work in Germany.
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2023. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum (closed from 23 Oct 2023 until 2027!), and Das Panorama. Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes or multi-museum tickets are again available. Individual museum ticket prices range from €6 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museums and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museums: What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- Opening Hours of Berlin State Museums (2023).
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for the most popular museums!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums (including all the SMB museums) in three days for €32 – a fantastic savings deal.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English).
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- 2024: Frans Hals in the Gemäldegalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary Art
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
- Both the Ethnological and Asian Art museums in the Humboldt Forum (Berlin Schloss) are now fully open — admission to both is still free and currently without the need to book a timeslot.
- The Gemäldegallerie is partly closed until September 2023 but at least 75% is open at any given time.
- The Pergamon Museum will be closed completely from 23 October 2023 and partly reopen only in spring 2027 (with the rest to follow by the mid to late 2030s).
More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings.
- Altes Museum with Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art.
- Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldtforum.
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (free admission) with a collection of 19th-century German sculptures.
- Gemäldegalerie with its collection of German and Dutch Old Masters and Italian paintings.
- Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts).
- Musical Instruments Museum near the Berliner Philharmonie.
- Neue Nationalgalerie with early 20th-century art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum will be closed from 23 October 2023 until 2027.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2022 — overview, in the Kulturforum (David Hockney), in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museumsinsel, Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art, and the Museum of Photography.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2021 — including the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldt Forum.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.