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 with time-slot reservations (currently essential).
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 tickets online with free time-slot reservations (currently essential).
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 2021. Time-slot reservations are essential for ALL museums. Tickets are available from Tiqets and 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. Ticket reservations are only available around two weeks in advance but are likely to be sold again for longer-term planning once conditions allow.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museum and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museum What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- New Opening Hours of Berlin State Museum (Winter 2021 / 2022).
Regular opening hours not currently in use: Berlin State Museums Opening Hours (9 to 5 was always going to be too simple)
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from Tiqets or GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for ALL museums!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums in three days for €29 – a fantastic savings deal. Buy at Tiqets as an instant-use mobile ticket.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English).
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2022 — overview, in the Kulturforum, 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.
- The Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss opened with exhibitions by various museums. The Ethnological and Asian Art museums are partly open but the full museums only open by 2022.
- The Neue Nationalgalerie with twentieth-century art (up to ca. 1970) reopened 22 August 2021.
- The Gemäldegallerie is partly closed until September 2023.
More Museums 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 with free collection of 19th-century Germany sculptures.
- Gemäldegalerie with its colleciton of German and Dutch Old Masters and Italian paintings.
- Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts)
- Musical Instruments Museum near the Berliner Philharmonie.
- Neue Nationalgalerie with early 20th-cenutry art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.