As I mentioned on Friday, it was time for another Long Night of Museums here in Berlin at the weekend. But beforehand I was off to a MuseUp at the newly re-opened Schwules Museum (Gay Museum) to kick off the afternoon. Focus of the event was the exhibition ‘Ades Wunderland’, honouring Berlin comedy artist Ades Zabel who was there to guide us round himself. As part of the exhibition, you could dress up in the style of one of Ades’ characters – of course, I couldn’t resist.
After the MuseUp, I headed downtown to the opening ceremony outside the Altes Museum and Berlin Cathedral. Event sponsors Werther’s were handing out free sweets by the bucket load and circus performers were keeping the crowds entertained.
But it was the special guests for the opening that caught everyone’s attention. At several metres high, it was difficult not to notice them! The giant puppets were a gift to the city from Catalonia, and had arrived with a Catalan delegation and a band of musicians playing schawm, pan pipes, Catalan bagpipes, tambourine and castanets. The giantess is Elisabeth-Christine, Princess of Wolfenbüttel, and her daughter Maria Theresia. The Catalan link is that Elisabeth-Christine married the Spanish king Carles III in 1708 in Barcelona.
There were lots of other things going on, but once the programme had officially kicked off the museums were calling me. I did however stop long enough to add my photo to the ‘age spiral’. Oops, now the secret is out…
My first destination (after a short stop to grab some dinner), was the Skateboard Museum at the Stadtbad Wedding. ‘Stadtbad’ translates as city pool, and it was indeed located inside a former swimming pool. Or rather a preview version of it, as the actual museum won’t be opening until 2014. I never would have though the history of skateboards would be so interesting – it’s definitely one to watch out for next year.
From Wedding I hopped on the circle line to Charlottenburg. I was planning to go on the bus tour of Berlin’s historic gas lamps, but so it seems was the rest of Berlin. I didn’t want to waste my evening waiting to squeeze on to one of the heavily steamed up buses, but it turned out Charlottenburg is a great location to see lots of museums in a short space of time, with no fewer than four located within a stone’s throw of each other.
I started out on the Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastic, a collection of around 2000 plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures. It was pretty cool seeing them all side by side in a relatively small space, a bit like a high school reunion of antiquities. The collection mainly serves as a resource for training and research, but is also open to the public as a museum.
After that I checked out the surrealist collections next door at the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, with the beautiful accompaniment of a small chamber orchestra playing live surrealist music. The exhibits range from Goya and Dali to Magritte and Max Ernst.
Across the road, the Museum Berggruen, one of the “most important locations for 20th century modern art in Berlin”, exhibits works from Klee and Matisse to Giacometti and Picasso, and next door to that, the Bröhan Museum showcases collections of art noveau, ranging from furniture (such as the lovely cabinet below) and ceramics to a gallery of art noveau paintings.
And since I was in Charlottenburg anyway, it would have been rude not to pop in to the palace for a quick visit. I’ve been before, but seeing the beautifully sumptuous rooms again is always a pleasure.
On my way to the U-Bahn to head back in to town, I popped in to the Keramik-Museum Berlin, which displays a range of ceramics from the mid 19th century to the present day, all from German-speaking areas.
At this point we were hitting midnight, still two hours to go. After keeping myself going with my supply of Werther’s sweets all evening, I was craving something savoury, so what better place to visit than the Currywurst Museum? Along the way I got waylaid by the Mauermuseum, however, and spent some time there refreshing my memory of the exhibits, which I had last seen at my very first Lange Nacht der Museen, less than a week after we had moved to Berlin. Eventually I made it to my much needed currywurst, and also ended up being the 1500th visitor at the museum that night, which was rewarded with a cute sticker of the museum’s mascot Qwoo. There was still an hour of the programme left, and I could have squeezed in another museum, but in the end I decided to hang around at the Currywurst Museum chatting with the staff. It was a lovely end to a great evening.
The Lange Nacht der Museen reminds me a bit of the Edinburgh Festival – some locals look forward to it all year, others stay as far away as possible. Think about it what you like, but if you’ve never been to one before and find yourself in Berlin during a Lange Nacht der Museen, you should definitely give it a go!