Berlin's KW Contemporary Art Institute gets a revamp

New director says the space will reopen in January after refurbishment and an organisational rethink

The Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (KW), which organises the Berlin Biennale, has closed its doors until January to allow for a restructure and refurbishment under the leadership of its new director, Krist Gruijthuijsen. The building in Berlin’s Mitte district shut in September, after this year’s Biennale, although its Café Bravo remains open.

A key element of the restructuring is establishing greater autonomy for both the institution and the biennial, which is directed by Gabriele Horn. “Both institutions achieved international relevance over the past decades,” Gruijthuijsen says. “For us, it has been a logical consequence to rethink the organisational and financial structure to maintain the future sustainability of both institutions.” The city of Berlin has doubled KW’s funding this year.

KW will reopen on January 19 “in full force”, Gruijthuijsen says, with a new artistic program and cosmetic alterations aimed at improving the experience for visitors. Other changes will highlight the institute’s history “as a space for gathering, exchange and communication.” Its Pogo Bar, famously the scene of illegal techno parties in the 1990s, will make a comeback in January, hosting events every Thursday in a space designed by the Los Angeles-based artist Robert Wilhite. A grant from the Berlin Lottery Foundation, which owns the building, will allow for additional renovations before the 2018 biennial.