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As one private collector shuts down Berlin space, Julia Stoschek threatens to follow

Closure of Thomas Olbricht’s Me Collectors Room comes after collector Friedrich Christian Flick’s announcement he is ending his museum loan

Collector Julia Stoschek could close her Berlin space © Sirin Simsek

Berlin’s Me Collectors Room, a showcase for Thomas Olbricht’s private collection in the centre of the city, announced it has closed its doors permanently. Julia Stoschek, whose video art is housed at the former Czech Cultural Centre, is also considering taking her collection elsewhere because of a hefty rent hike, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported.

Olbricht’s Me Collectors Room was due to close its last exhibition at the end of this week. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there seemed little sense in introducing the necessary hygiene measures only to reopen for a few days, a spokeswoman says. The foundation will continue operating a “Wunderkammer” exhibition ship on Brandenburg inland waterways until the end of 2021. Olbricht is seeking partnerships with local schools in Essen and has set up an “artist in residence” programme together with the Museum Folkwang.

Me Collectors Room will reopen as the Berlin Samurai Museum © Me Collectors Room

Stoschek’s current rental agreement runs until December 2022. The federal government office charged with property management is insisting on increased rent because the building’s exterior is to be renovated. Stoschek has tried to negotiate terms with the Berlin Senate that would enable her to keep her collection on display at the Czech Cultural Centre on Leipziger Strasse beyond that, but she has encountered resistance, the Welt am Sonntag reported. The paper said the Senate has rebuffed her offers to purchase the building, in which she has invested millions. During the pandemic, Stoschek has made works from her collection available online, including pieces by Wolfgang Tillmans and Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. It is her aim to make the entire collection of more than 860 works accessible online.

The loss of the private collections is a blow to Berlin’s art scene, after the city’s state museums in April announced the “painful” end of a loan agreement with the collector Friedrich Christian Flick. The loan is another victim of a real-estate boom: the building where his collection has primarily been shown, the Rieckhallen behind the Hamburger Bahnhof museum, is to be demolished by the landlord. The loan encompassed works by Alberto Giacometti, Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Nauman, Georg Baselitz, Isa Genzken, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sol LeWitt.

The Me Collectors Room will, however, reopen as the Berlin Samurai Museum. It is to be taken over by another collector: Peter Janssen, the owner of one of the world’s most extensive collections on the aesthetics, craftsmanship and martial pursuits of the Samurai.