Berlin’s most atmospheric venue for contemporary art is the Sammlung Boros, housed in a 1942 Albert Speer-designed bunker with an unexpected Renaissance palazzo-style exterior. Christian and Karen Boros purchased this unusual building to house their art collection, which contains pieces dating from 1990 to the present. They also built a penthouse for themselves on the bunker’s roof! Knowledgeable guides take groups of up to 12 people through the several floors of concrete-walled exhibition space, ensuring that visitors can contemplate the art in relative peace. Some works, such as Wolfgang Tillmans’ carefully composed snapshot-like photos and Ai Weiwei’s camphor wood tree sculpture, were by artists familiar to me. Others, such as the self-destructive sculptures of Berlin artist Michael Sailstorfer, were a revelation. Reserve tickets through the collection’s website well in advance. sammlung-boros.de
I also enjoyed visiting the Hamburger Bahnhof, a former train station converted into Berlin’s most important public modern art museum. The temporary exhibitions almost always prove to be interesting. This time, Berlin artist Michael Beutler filled the main hall with works treading the line between sculpture and architecture, giving the airy space the feel of a futuristic construction site. The permanent collection is also strong, with major pieces by notable artists such as Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jeff Koons. The museum’s restaurant has an appealing canalside patio.