Berlinische Galerie reopens after refurbishment

German capital’s 1960s urban renewal is explored in new shows

The reopening exhibitions at the Berlinische Galerie, one of Berlin’s youngest museums, shed light on the city’s urban renewal in the 1960s. The museum, which focuses on Modern art, photography and architecture reopened in Kreuzberg yesterday, 28 May, with three temporary shows and a new collection display. The €6m refurbishment took ten months and is largely invisible as it mainly involved updating the museum’s security and technical equipment.

In the entrance hall, sculptures, assemblages and mobiles by the Munich-born artist Björn Dahlem lead visitors to a large silver spaceship. “It is a metaphor for art,” the artist said at the opening, “it is alien”. Dahlem has created new works made out of metal and found objects that seek to visually represent cosmological activity, such as the superfast and irregular orbits of stars.

At the heart of the reopening is Radically Modern: Urban Planning and Architecture in 1960's Berlin (until 26 October), an exhibition that addresses contemporary debates on Modern post-war architecture in Berlin. The 1960s was a decade of profound urban development in the city even though the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. The rivalries between the two political systems of East and West Berlin accelerated the reconstruction of the city, but the show emphasises their common ground rather than their differences, says Anne Heckmann, one of the show’s curators.

The wall signs for the photographs, models, drawings and notebooks do not mention whether the buildings are located in former East or West Berlin so as to highlight their common influences, in particular, that of the International Style and an optimism about the future.

An underlying concern in the show is whether these building projects by architects such as Walter Gropius, Hermann Henselmann, Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg, Walter Herzog, Josef Kaiser, and Mies van der Rohe, are at risk as the city continues to change. The exhibition contributes to the debate about the preservation of this architectural legacy with a blog and a free bilingual app that serves as a guide to the surviving buildings around the city.