With its rich heritage of Street Art and Graffiti, it is only fitting that Germany’s first museum dedicated to the art forms should open in Berlin – the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art.
For the first time impressive art work of world-known and emerging artists of the urban contemporary art are brought together in one place. Here you find top-class art, its a place of research and a place of collecting. The collection will steadily be growing and will keep the museum alive. It is very exciting to participate in this unique project and to have an influence. A great thank you goes out to the artists, who work pro bono for URBAN Nation and for Berlin art and of course to Martha Cooper for providing us with her major work for our collection!
– Yasha Young, Director URBAN NATION
Urban Nation is part of the non-profit foundation Berliner Leben, established by the city-owned housing company Gewobag. The museum is the culmination of many years of planning and hard work and was funded in part by a grant of 1 million Euros and a loan of 400,000 Euros from the LOTTO Foundation in Berlin.
The opening show at the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, ‘UNique. UNited. UNstoppable.’, features 150 pieces chosen by a team of 10 curators. The exhibition includes work from internationally renowned artists like Blek Le Rat, Vhils, Isaac Cordal and ROA, as well as Berlin artists such as Dave the Chimp, Various & Gould and XOOOOX. The works on display have been divided into distinct categories – Portrait, Text-based Art, and Pattern & Abstraction, to name a few.
A Wilhelminian-era former residential building at Bülowstraße 7 in Schöneberg has been cleverly transformed to plans by GRAFT Architects to showcase the museum’s collection. A catwalk on the upper level of the two-storey interior affords views of the artworks from dramatically different perspectives. There is also no defined way to navigate the collection so visitors control their own experience.
The building is also a work of art in its own right. LI-HILL, Ben Eine and DALeast among others have painted the façade of the museum over the last few years and regular facelifts are set to be part of its future.
Urban Nation’s contribution to the Berlin street art scene is not confined to the museum. Their One Wall project has seen Herakut, Don John, Shepard Fairey, Fintan Magee and others decorate walls across the city.
Urban Nation has been amassing a collection of artworks from visiting artists since 2013 and legendary photojournalist Martha Cooper bequeathed part of her collection of street art and graffiti books to the museum for what is now the Martha Cooper Library.
Since Urban Nation set up their offices and started their museum project there, Bülowstraße has become a regular destination for me. I often add a diversion to my journeys around Berlin just so I can see the mini-masterpieces that are constantly appearing there.
If you’re planning a visit to the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, and you really should, you can find opening times, directions and other useful information on the Urban Nation website.