Archive for July, 2009

Berlin Kulturforum, part 2: A Design Museum

July 19, 2009

Also at the Berlin Kulturforum, we visited the Kunstgewerbemuseum, or Museum of Decorative Arts. This is the place to go to see fabulous examples of European furniture, clothing, jewelry, tableware, and  pretty much any other designed object of day-to-day utility from the Middle Ages to the present day.

On the negative side, this is a disorienting, Escheresque space with many levels in which it’s easy to get lost.

kunst-4 gallery view

On the positive side, you can pretty much alway catch a view of the interior courtyard around which the museum is wrapped.

kunst-2 outside view

There are doors to this space but they were all locked on the day we were there.

Among the many collections is a comprehensive exhibition of twentieth century chairs. Unlike the similar permanent exhibition of seating at MOMA in New York, the Kunstgewerbemuseum’s collection can be viewed sitting down.

kunst-3 chair xbit

Again, this museum features comfortable, resilient wood floors.

Berlin Kulturforum, part 1: A Great Art Gallery

July 19, 2009

In July 2009 we visited Berlin, Germany and dropped in at the Kulturforum, a complex of museums and other cultural institutions located near Potsdamer Platz.

The Gemäldegalerie is an art museum featuring some of the major masterpieces of European art from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. In terms of visitor comfort, it has some features we particularly enjoy.

At each corner of the museum, there is a space in which you can sit and look both out the windows to the outside world and in to the museum.

gemald-2 corner

It functions both as a reflective, restful space and a sort of semi-private vestibule. Extremely welcome break from the intense visual parade of masterworks. And the seat, fashioned sort of like a pew but at a more relaxed angle, is quite comfortable.

The museum’s sight lines are, in general, well thought-out. You never feel trapped in a tight space; there are many visual focal points at a variety of distances, often with a glimpse of the world outside.

gemald-1 thru to outside

Finally, the central atrium is simply brilliant. It’s a place to rest, both physically and psychically; a flexible exhibition space in itself (when we visited this time the only exhibit was the permanent fountain in the middle, but in the past we have seen other exhibits there); and a space that with its columns and shafts of natural light evokes a basilica – appropriate, I suppose, for a secular temple of art.

gemald-6 atrium

Oh, and the floors in this museum are wood: lovely to look at and easy on the feet. Altogether a very successful and comfortable space — major artworks of staggering beauty aside.