Theatre at the Museum für Fotografie
Looking Back at the 1920s

08.10.2021 to 13.02.2022
Museum für Fotografie

Like a detective sifting through clues, the presentation elucidates a previously little known chapter in the history of the former Landwehrkasino, now the Museum für Fotografie (Museum of Photography). A century ago, a theatre was established in the Kaisersaal (Imperial Hall), the museum’s largest exhibition space ‒ located on the 2nd storey. The exhibition uses theatre photos, programmes, cast lists, postcards and posters to introduce its eventful history. 

The Landwehrkasino was built in 1909 as a meeting place and dining club for the reserve officers’ corps. After the First World War, the German military was in dire financial straits, so it was decided that the prestigious heart of the Kasino building, the Kaisersaal, would have to be rented out. Gustav Charlé opened the Neues Theater am Zoo there in August 1921. The stage was located in Berlin’s ‟New West”, the hub of ‟Golden Twenties” entertainment culture around the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) and the Kurfürstendamm. It offered a broad and varied programme, with the spectrum of works ranging from Shakespeare to Wedekind to Roda Roda, and including operettas, dance theatre, piano evenings and comedy drama.

From the Neues Theater am Zoo to the Deutsches Volkstheater

The theatre experienced a rapid succession of sensational successes, bankruptcies and management changes. In 1929 Joachim von Ostau took over the stage and renamed it the Deutsches Volkstheater. Barely a year later, Ostau’s plan to establish a culturally relevant theatre had already failed. Like many other theatres, the stage shut down because of the world economic crisis in the early 1930s. Thus, the theatre experiment at the Landwehrkasino can be seen as an example of Berlin‘s theatre life during the Weimar Republic.

Insights into Theatres in Berlin during the Weimar Republic

Theatre photographs by Lotte Jacobi and Joseph Schmidt document productions at the Neues Theater am Zoo / Deutsches Volkstheater. They provide insight into the works performed, stage designs and costumes from the period. Dance photography is also represented with Suse Byk’s photographs of pieces by the well-known choreographer and dance theoretician Rudolph von Laban and Martin Badekow’s images of the nude dancer Celly de Rheidt. 

The presentation assembles objects from the collections at the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library), the bpk-Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library), the Akademie der Künste, the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, the Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf at the Villa Oppenheim, the picture library akg-images and the Universitätsbibliothek (University Library) in Leipzig. It is presented together with the exhibition Ruth Walz. Theatre Photography in the Kaisersaal at the Museum für Fotografie.

Exhibition Catalogue 

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication edited by Justine Tutmann at Deutscher Kunstverlag: "Theatre at the Museum of Photography", 112 pages, 74 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-422-98696-1, price: 19 euros.

A special exhibition of the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Aida von Guiseppe Verdi, De Nationale Opera Amsterdam 2000, Regie Klaus Michael Grüber Bühne / Kostüme Eduardo Arroyo Radames Giorgio Giuseppini
© Ruth Walz

08.10.2021 to 13.02.2022

Jebensstraße 2
10623 Berlin

wheelchair accessible

U-Bahn: Kurfürstendamm, Zoologischer Garten
S-Bahn: Zoologischer Garten
Bus: Kurfürstendamm, Zoologischer Garten

Sun 11:00 - 19:00
Mon closed
Tue 11:00 - 19:00
Wed 11:00 - 19:00
Thu 11:00 - 20:00
Fri 11:00 - 19:00
Sat 11:00 - 19:00

Opening times on public holidays Opening Hours

Admission ticket Museum für Fotografie
10,00 EUR Concessions 5,00
Museum für Fotografie
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"Theater im Museum für Fotografie Ein Rückblick auf die 1920er Jahre" in the Webshop of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin