Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof is a former railway station in Berlin, Germany, on Invalidenstraße in the Moabit district opposite the Charité hospital. Today it serves as the Museum für Gegenwart (Museum for the Present), a contemporary art museum.


Former use as a train station

The station was built to Friedrich Neuhaus' plans in 1846/47 as the starting point of the Berlin–Hamburg Railway. It is the only surviving terminus building in Berlin from the late neoclassical period and counts as one of the oldest station buildings in Germany.


The building has not been used as a station since 1884, when north-bound long distance trains from Berlin began to leave from Lehrter Bahnhof, which is just 400m to the south-west—now the site of Berlin Hauptbahnhof.


Use as a railway museum

On 14 December 1906 the former station became home to the new Royal Museum on Traffic and Construction (German: Königliches Bau- und Verkehrsmuseum), supervised by the then Prussian State Railways, which was incorporated into the new all-German national railways Deutsche Reichsbahn in 1920. The term 'royal' was dropped after the Prussian monarchy had fallen in 1918. The museum attracted the crowds and was thus twice extended with additional wings to the left and right of the main building in 1909–11 and 1914–16. Hit by Allied bombing in 1944, the museum remained closed; however, most of the collection survived.


After the war, although located in what had become the British sector of Berlin, the museum remained under the supervision of the East German Reichsbahn, which—by agreement of all the Allies—fulfilled the role of the old Reichsbahn in all of Berlin as well as in East Germany. The Reichsbahn's East German management had no interest in reopening a museum now located in West Berlin, but only in the exhibits, which the Western Allies did not allow to be brought to the East. In 1984 the Reichsbahn transferred both building and collection into western hands. The collection included examples of industrial and technological developments of its time—many locomotives and rolling stock. The museum was thus a precursor of the German Museum of Technology (Berlin), which today shows many of the exhibits once shown in Hamburger Bahnhof. In 1987 the then empty halls were used for changing exhibitions.


Rebirth as an art museum

Between 1990 and 1996, Josef Paul Kleihues refurbished the building and it then found a new use as the Museum für Gegenwart within the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Museum für Gegenwart exhibits modern and contemporary art, for example by Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Long, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly.


Between 2004 and 2010, the Museum für Gegenwart exhibited parts of the art collection of Friedrich Christian Flick, son of Otto-Ernst Flick. Due to his Flick family background, the display, which had previously been rejected by the local authorities in Zurich, gave rise to protests.