Zum Artikel "Ein Tag im Grünen: Kulturforum mal anders"

A Day in Greenery: A New Perspective on the Kulturforum


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At first glance, the Kulturforum does not appear to be one of Berlin’s green oases. But the institutions there are now inviting visitors to experience its verdant side during a special day-long event replete with concerts, readings, exhibitions and more.

Viewed through the lens of urban development, the Kulturforum has been and remains a location with certain challenges, but it has a fascinating history and some of the most exciting architectural ensembles in Berlin. There is one thing, however, that few visitors expect to see: green gardens.

Zum Artikel "Ein Tag im Grünen: Kulturforum mal anders"

Neue Nationalgalerie, Skulpturengarten © Ludwig Mies van der Rohe / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021 / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker

And yet, this prominent ensemble of buildings, once conceived of as a green bridge to the Tiergarten, has more than five gardens. Few people know about them, but they are real gems of urban planning:  the “Philharmonischer Garten” (Philharmonic Garden) of the Philharmonie and the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, the “Lesegarten” (Reading Garden) of the Staatsbibliothek, the “Skulpturengarten” (Sculpture Garden) at the Neue Nationalgalerie, the interior gardens at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, and the Matthäikirchplatz plaza in front of the Church of St Matthew. These are green oases in a concrete landscape and now they will offer visitors a day-long program of events as part of Berlin’s summer cultural festival.

On the first Sunday of each month, museums open free of charge in Berlin, and on September 4, 2022, the institutions at Kulturforum will be offering something extra: „EIN TAG IM GRÜNEN. Die unentdeckten Gärten des Kulturforums“ (“A DAY IN GREENERY: The Undiscovered Gardens of the Kulturforum”). From midday to 10:00 pm, visitors can expect concerts, performances, readings, tours, a church service, and a variety of food and beverages  – all open-air.

For some sweet-sounding accompaniment, there will be a musical stroll through the Philharmonic Garden; the youth choir Vokalhelden will sing songs by Billie Eilish and Manu Chao (12:00–2:00 PM), and a concert will take place in the Sculpture Garden of the Neue Nationalgalerie as part of the “Sounds in the Garden” series: the band DEEP GOLD will play music from the film of the same name by Julian Rosefeldt as well as pieces from the stage play “Oben & Unten” (1929) by Kurt Schwitters (4:00 PM–5:30 PM).

Visitors can also experience an interesting sound installation in the interior gardens of the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts): making use of acoustic instruments and digital electronics, artist Arnold Dreyblatt will present Transmissions, an immersive soundscape set in the large interior courtyard of the museum, which will be open to the public for the first time in over thirty years (2:00 PM–4:00 PM). “The inner gardens of the Kunstgewerbemuseum are something very special, because they fit in with the original design concept by architect Rolf Gutbrod, in which architecture is regarded as a landscape,” says curator Claudia Banz. Gutbrod’s aim was to create interior and exterior spaces that flowed into each other. “We now have a fantastic opportunity, finally to host a performance in our large inner courtyard as part of this wonderful joint project,” Banz adds.

Meanwhile, the Staatsbibliothek is inviting visitors to relax “With Hoffmann in the Reading Garden,” an extensive program to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of E.T.A. Hoffmann. To accompany the exhibition “Uncannily Fantastic” (from August 17 to November 2, 2022, at the Stabi Kulturwerk), Felix von Manteuffel will read excerpts from some of Hoffmann’s finest texts: Ritter Gluck, Eine Spukgeschichte and many more. Berlin music will be played on the barrel organ by Jörg Joachim Riehle (3:00 PM–5:00 PM).

A pop-up exhibition called “Gardens Inspire” will be shown at the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The event features architecture, fashion, and graphic design from the museum collections of the library. The curators will also be present and available to talk with visitors.

Modernes Museumsgebäude
A green oasis is also hidden behind the brutalist façade of the Kunstgewerbemuseum. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Achim Kleuker
Moderne Gebäude an einem Platz hinter Bäumen
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin © Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin
Modernes Museumsgebäude
The Kulturforum has a lot of stone - but also some hidden green gems. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker

Over at the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), Dagmar Korbacher will be doing the talking. From 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, the director herself will give a tour titled “Woodcut. The Art That Came from the Garden.” “The materials used in making many woodcuts come from the garden,” the art historian explains. “The printing blocks were, in fact, often made from the wood of fruit trees, and of course fruit trees often grow in gardens.” In her tour of the exhibition, Korbacher also intends to deal specifically with garden themes: “For example, we have a small chest adorned with garden designs, a greeting card with the Infant Jesus in a meadow, and floral wallpaper designs that allowed people to bring the garden indoors, as it were.”

The Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) will also offer tours on which visitors can discover the gardens and landscapes in the collection’s works (12:00–6:00 PM). “In the period from the early 14th to the early 16th century, there are actually no portrayals of gardens in the narrow sense of the word,” says curator and art historian Stefan Kemperdick, who will conduct the tour. “But we definitely do see portrayals of gentle landscapes or heavenly realms, which are often used during this period as scenic settings for saints or biblical figures.” Often, these landscapes also have a symbolic significance, or they are part of recurring motifs, such as the Virgin Mary in the garden, Kemperdick explains. Friends of the Old Masters will undoubtedly be able to discover a surprising detail or two here.

And from 4:00 PM onward, after working up an appetite from all the events in the Kulturforum gardens, visitors can go to Sigismundstrasse, where the institutions at the Kulturforum will jointly host an open-air feast. The entire street will be cordoned off and everyone is invited to take a seat at the extended picnic table, enjoy a chat over cake and currywurst (no charge!), and look back on the afternoon.

The day will close out with a very special event at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Starting at 8:30 PM, the famous jazz trumpeter Till Brönner will perform “Improvisations on Mies,” accompanied by Rainer Böhm on the piano, in the upper hall of the museum.

A DAY IN GREENERY: The undiscovered gardens of the Kulturforum. September 4, 2022, 12:00–10:00 PM.

A joint event organized by the institutions at the Kulturforum and supported by Kulturprojekte Berlin.