The Berlin Kulturforum is a product of utopian thinking. Born from ruins, it has not only created some of Berlin’s most important cultural institutions and architectural modernism icons, but also hundreds of never built designs have been brought to life in the vacancy of a post-war wasteland. Even its prehistory tells an ambivalent story of utopia: from Prussia’s early yearning for Italy in the old Tiergarten quarter to the fantasies of great power of the National Socialists (“World Capital Germania”) to the dreams of a West Berlin Museum Island, cultural campus of the free world a few meters away from the Wall.

The institutions gathered at the Kulturforum are exploring this utopian story together: on the initiative of the St. Matthäus Foundation, the Cultural Foundation of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO) and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) and with the support of the Capital Cultural Fund, the Art Library, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the New National Gallery of the National Museums in Berlin as well as the Berlin State Library, the Ibero-American Institute, and the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation have come together to address the utopian potentials of their own institutions and of the Kulturforum as a whole, both past and present, in exhibitions, artistic interventions, and urban conversations.

Individual aspects of this history come to light in the surrounding wards: St. Matthew’s Church as a reminder of a vanished district, Hans Scharoun’s vision of a non-hierarchical music and reading landscape in the Philharmonie and the State Library, Mies van der Rohe’s visionary connection between art and the city in the National Gallery, all the way to Rolf Gutbrod’s unfinished attempt at a forum with connections across the Landwehr Canal and to the Tiergarten. The historical perspectives become stepping stones to the present in the artistic interventions and city discussions of the individual wards.

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St. Matthäus-Kirche

Philharmonie Berlin

Neue Nationalgalerie

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin