Text and Photos by Dorothea S. Michelman
With such a phenomenal collection of 175 museums, three acclaimed opera houses, seven professional orchestras, more than 150 stages, 300 galleries and approximately 1,500 cultural, political, and sports events a day, it is hardly surprising that Berlin ranks third among Europe’s most-visited cities, keeping company with London and Paris.
There is so much to see and do, the intrepid visitor is hard-pressed to make a selection from among the German Capital’s highlights for 2007 and beyond.
What promises to be a blockbuster exhibition at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie is the result of a generous loan by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of 150 19th-century French masters’ paintings from June 1–October 7, 2007. On view will be such favorites as works by Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Edouard Manet.
Another noteworthy exhibition will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the celebrated Brücke Museum, which owns the largest collection of works by artists of the Die Brücke (or “The Bridge”) movement, initiated 1905 in Dresden by a small group of avant garde painters. It introduced the art world to a new style, Expressionism. Among the masters shown are Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel. Anniversary exhibit dates are September 15, 2007–January 13, 2008.
Turning to the art of the present, contemporary American photographer Cindy Sherman will showcase some of her compelling work at the Gropiusbau from June 15–September 18, 2007. Sherman focuses her camera lens mostly on herself in her depictions of the human condition, especially as it relates to the female identity.
On November 11, 2006 The Kennedy’s Museum opened its doors with a spectacular display of more than 1,000 photographs, historical documents, books, films and memorabilia once belonging to the former American first family. John F. Kennedy’s historic visit to Cold War Berlin in June 1963 is highlighted in a special section. Among the exhibit items are Kennedy’s overseas suitcase, his black Hermes attaché case and Jackie Kennedy’s signature pillbox hat.
In May 2007 Berlin’s recently completed Holocaust Memorial will receive the distinguished AIA Institute Honor Award of the American Institute of Architects. This award is the pre-eminent prize for architecture in the USA and will be conferred upon Peter Eisenman for his firm’s memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. It comprises a formidable field of concrete blocks which addresses the plight of the victims of the Holocaust. Open 24 hours a day, the Memorial is one of the most visited sites with as many as 10,000 visitors a day. Admission is free.
Berlin institutions also celebrate centennials in 2007. Kaufhaus des Westens (familiarly known as KaDeWe), continental Europe’s largest department store, marks its hundredth year with a newly-designed “luxury boulevard”, showcasing the world’s most coveted premium brands. KaDeWe feautures some 380,000 items to a daily flow of an estimated 40,000 customers. This shopper’s paradise is a mecca not only to shop, but just as important, to see and to be seen!
The famous luxury Adlon Hotel in historic Pariser Platz also celebrates its 100th birthday this year. It once was the glittering meeting place of Europe’s royalty and tsars and later saw famous figures, such as Marlene Dietrich, composer Johann Strauss and conductor Herbert von Karajan mingle here.
Though the original Hotel was demolished in 1984, the Adlon was rebuilt and reopened in 1997 to resume its place as one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe and one of the most prestigious addresses (near the Brandenburg Gate) in Berlin.
New on the scene in Berlin is Europe’s first chocolate restaurant. The Schokoladen Restaurant offers upscale menus celebrating the cocoa bean. Chefs from around the world create exciting menus, among them a special weekend “Chocolade Dinner Show” starting at 68 Euros per person.
According to Berlin tourism officials shopping is the fifth important reason for international visitors to come to see Germany’s capital city. Luxury shopping destinations like Kurfürstendamm, Friedrichstrasse and Potsdamer Platz, are just one end of the shopping spectrum that also includes a variety of flea markets, ethnic markets and malls, spread out in a city which is nine times the size of Paris. The sheer variety of options will amaze shoppers and onlookers alike. And if you are afraid there are not enough hours in the day, the new store hours allow shopping around the clock from Monday through Saturday and on 10 Sundays throughout the year.
The Berlin Welcome card offering free transportation, free admission to museums and various discounts make a visit to Berlin specially attractive.
IF YOU GO
Located at the Kultur Forum in Potsdamer Platz
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday to Sunday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Admission: Tuesday to Friday 10 Euros, reduced rate 5 Euros
CINDY SHERMAN EXHIBIT
Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin Niederkirchnerstrasse 7, Ecke Stresemannstrasse, Berlin 10963
Hours: Wednesday–Monday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.;closed Tuesday.
Admission: 7 Euros, Reduced rate 4 Euros
“THE KENNEDYS” Museum
Pariser Platz 4a
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Admission: 7 Euros
Vorschau Exhibit February 17–June 10, 2007. Documents of the artist group Die Brücke
Anniversary Exhibit September 15–January 13th, 2008
Hours: daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m., closed Tuesday.
Admission: 4 Euros, special exhibits 5 Euros
Located near the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag
Open 24 hours a day. Free admission.
KAUFHAUS DES WESTENS
Tauentziensstrasse 21–24, Berlin 10789
DAS SCHOKOLADEN RESTAURANT
Charlottenstrasse 60, Berlin 10117
Hours: Saturday, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–11.p.m.; Lunch daily, noon–2:30 p.m.; Dining a la carte, Sunday–Thursday 6 p.m.–11 p.m.; Chocolate dinner show, Friday–Saturday. Cost from 68 per person. This is a nonsmoking restaurant.
Location opposite the Brandenburg Gate
BERLIN WELCOME CARD and other information is available at selected hotels and the following four infostores:
* Hauptbahnhof, Europa Platz 1, 10557 Berlin
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
* Neues Kranzler Eck, Kurfürstendamm 21, 10719 Berlin
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
* Brandenburg Gate, South Wing, Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Extended hours from April till October.
* Pavilion at the Reichstag, 11011 Berlin
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m.