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Nazi bunker transformed as private collectors put their art on display

German advertising guru to show over 500 works from his private collection on a rotating basis

German advertising guru Christian Boros is to show over 500 works from his contemporary art collection in rotating display in a former World War II Berlin bunker. The private gallery will be open to the public by appointment twice a week from early next year.

The bomb shelter was built by the architect Karl Bonatz for Hitler in 1943. Mr Boros bought the building in 2003 and commissioned Berlin architects Realarchitektur to convert it into a 3,000 sq. m gallery.

Mr Boros, the founder of an advertising agency in Wuppertal, west Germany, started buying contemporary art in 1990. Artists in his collection include Elizabeth Peyton, Franz Ackermann, Tracey Emin, Anselm Reyle, Thomas Zipp, Michel Majerus and the 2006 Turner-prize winner Tomma Abts.

He told The Art Newspaper: “I only buy primary market works from dealers. The last work I bought [in June] is a sculpture by Manuela Leinhoss from the new Berlin gallery Micky Schubert.” When asked if he would ever sell his collection, he said: “Yes, I will—three days before I die.”

Jens Casper of Realarchitektur told The Art Newspaper: “Ceilings and walls were removed to create new areas [in the bunker]. It is not a typical ‘white cube’ exhibition space. Many works on view there will be site-specific.” For instance, ceilings on two floors were taken out to make room for Ventilator, a sculpture by Olafur Eliasson.

The architect added: “There is no thermal insulation and no air conditioning; it is more like a rough experimental space.” Realarchitektur has also designed a 4,800 sq. ft penthouse residence on top of the bunker for Mr Boros.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 182 July 2007