Visit the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin

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by Henk Bekker

in Berlin, Germany, N24

The Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin is a top collections of decorative or applied arts and design from the Middle Ages to the present.

The Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin has one of the world’s largest collections of decorative arts from the early Middle Ages to the present.

Kuppelreliquiar aus dem Welfenschatz in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin

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.

Update 2024: New Berlin Museum Opening Hours

From 16 April 2024, several smaller museums will be closed on both Monday and Tuesday with shorter opening hours on many days. Opening hours for the Alte Nationalgalerie will be longer for much of the year, as the Caspar David Friedrich exhibition tickets are selling out fast, and also longer in summer 2024 for the top museums. See the latest Berlin museum opening hours for details.

Currently, time-slot reservations are essential only for the Caspar David Friedrich exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie (until 4 August 2024). However, it is sensible to book timeslots if available for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!) Timeslots are released only a few 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

Charles Eames Chair and Ottoman in the 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. 

Reliquiar in Bursenform

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.

GetYourGuide

Permanent Exhibitions in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin

Reliquaries from the Welfenschatz in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin

The main themes in the exhibitions in the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin are:

Fashion (Mode)

Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin

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)

Cupola reliquary from the Guelph Treasure (Detail)

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)

Modern design in the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts)

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

Medieval Displays in the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin

Opening Hours & Tickets

Designer Chairs

Opening hours of the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in the Kulturforum are Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 and weekends from 11:00 to 18:00. (Since mid-April 2024, the museum is closed on both Monday and Tuesday.)

Admission ticket prices for the Kunstgewerbemuseum are €10 (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

Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) Berlin exterior

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 new opening times for many Berlin museums from mid-April 2024. Timeslot reservations are essential only for the Caspar David Friedrich exhibition (until 4 August 2024) but sensible (and sometimes needed in busy periods!) for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Pergamon – Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!). Timeslots are released only a few weeks in advance. Online 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 sold (Kulturforum / Museums Island). Individual museum ticket prices range from €8 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code but pick up free audioguides first.

For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:

News & Temporary Exhibitions:

More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:

Previous Temporary Exhibitions:

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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