The Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin has one of the world’s largest collections of decorative arts from the early middle ages to the present.
The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin’s Kulturforum area displays mostly European decorative or applied arts from the early middle ages to the present. The collection includes amongst other gold, silver, glass, and enamel items, porcelain, furniture, paneling, tapestries, and fashion. Buy tickets online to skip the lines at the ticket window.
Berlin state museums are open in 2024. Currently, time-slot reservations are essential only for the Neues Museum and for major exhibitions but it is sensible to book timeslots for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself closed until 2027!) Timeslots are currently released only around four weeks in advance. Buy tickets and make reservations online at GetYourGuide or at SMB. Online tickets for museums without timeslot reservations are skip-the-line — go directly to the entrance to scan the ticket. Many multiple-museum tickets and passes are again accepted, including Kulturforum, Museumsinsel, and the excellent value 3-day Berlin Museum Pass.
Highlights in Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin
The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) is adjacent to the Gemäldegalerie in the Kulturforum area of Berlin. The museum, the only part ever completed of an oft-revised grand project started in the 1960s, opened here in the mid-1980s. The exposed concrete building has been described as “one of Berlin’s most unjust architectural legends” but the collections and displays inside are world-class.
The permanent exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin is divided over four floors and around a dozen main thematic rooms:
- Ground Floor — Fashion (Mode)
- Lower Floor — Old Art (Alte Kunst) from the early middle ages to the Renaissance
- Upper Floor — New Art (Neue Kunst) from the Renaissance to the mid-20th century
- Basement — Chairs and special exhibitions
A further dependence of the museum is in Schloss Köpenick — a 17th-century Baroque palace in the southeastern outskirts of Berlin, where furniture and decorative art from the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods are exhibited in rooms with restored Baroque stucco work. This part of the collection is seen completely separate from the main museum and due to the distance from central Berlin rarely visited by foreign travelers.
Permanent Exhibitions in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin
The main themes in the exhibitions in the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin are:
The Kunstgewerbemuseum owns the important couture collections of Martin Kamer and Wolfgang Ruf. On the museum’s ground floor, around 130 mannequins model costumes and accessories from 1850 to the present. These showcases with creations of famous couturiers such as Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior are dimly lit for conservation purposes but otherwise resemble a time-warped visit to a high-end shopping mall.
A smaller selection of older fashion from 1700 to 1850 is displayed on the upper floor.
Old Art (Alte Kunst)
The Old Art (Alte Kunst) on the lower ground floor is of astonishing quality. The main themes here are:
- Treasure art from the Middle Ages — including medieval devotional objects such a reliquaries and many items from the famous Welfenschatz (Guelph Treasure).
- Renaissance art from Southern Europe — including a large collection of majolica
- Renaissance art from Northern Europe — including the Lüneburger Ratssilber (Lüneburg city silver treasure).
New Art (Neue Kunst)
In the New Art (Neue Kunst) section on the upper floor, each hall has a room furnished in the style of the period in addition to further displays of objets d’art, furniture, and home fittings. The exhibition here is divided into:
- Renaissance to Baroque — including Kunstkammer displays (cabinets of curiosities)
- Baroque to Rococo — German porcelain from amongst others Meissen and KPM
- Classicism and Historicism — 19th-century furniture including David Roentgen’s bureau
- Art Nouveau to Art Deco — early 20th-century designs, including items by Tiffany, René Lalique, Henry van de Velde, and César Klein.
The display continues chronologically in the basement with a display of designer chairs from the 19th and 20th centuries, Bauhaus, and iconic designs from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Visitor’s Information for the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin
Opening Hours & Tickets
Opening hours of the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in the Kulturforum are Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 and weekends from 11:00 to 18:00.
Admission ticket prices for the Kunstgewerbemuseum are €8 (free for under 18-year-olds) — buy skip-the-line tickets online.
Information inside the museum is often in German only and rather cryptic — do pick up the free audio guide at the ticket counter.
The Museum Pass Berlin is valid, as are Kulturforum Area Tickets (not always available) that include all the museums in the Kulturforum area (e.g. the Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, and the Musical Instruments Museum).
Getting to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin
The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) is in an exposed concrete museum building in the Kulturforum complex next to the Gemäldegalerie, across the road from the Philharmonie and near the Neue Nationalgalerie.
The closest bus stop is Philharmonie / Philharmonie-Süd (buses 200, 300, M41) while Kulturforum (buses M48 & M85) and Potsdamer Brücke (M29) are also convenient on major bus lines. The closest U-Bahn and S-Banh station is Potsdamer Platz — from here take any of the buses listed above, or simply walk.
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2024. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Pergamon – Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!). Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide which seems to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes and multi-museum tickets are again available (Kulturforum / Museums Island). 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 (2024).
- 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: Overview of Top Berlin Exhibitions in 2024, Caspar David Friedrich in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Frans Hals in the Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie (20th-century art) Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary Art, Kupferstichkabinett (Prints and Drawings), and Photography Museum.
- Museums closed in 2024: The Pergamon Museum is closed until 2027 (some sculptures are on display in Das Panorama), the Museum Berggruen is closed until 2025 (much of its collection is traveling the world), the permanent collection of the German History Museum (Zeughaus) is closed but temporary exhibitions continue in the Pei Building.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings (2024 special exhibition).
- 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 — 20th-century art.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum is closed from October 2023 until 2027. Some Greek sculptures are shown in the
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- 2022: 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.
- 2021: 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.
- 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum.