Hamburger Bahnhof: Monument Protection Expanded to Include the Rieckhallen

Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

Berlin’s historical monument authority, the Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, has expanded protection for the museum Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart to include the Rieckhallen.

Hamburger Bahnhof was constructed as a train station in 1846‒47. It was converted into a museum during several building phases and later enlarged by adding the neighbouring 1960s Rieckhallen to the museum complex in 2003‒04. These two structures serve as informative eyewitnesses ‒ reflecting the history of the city, railway and museum. Passenger service in the main building had ceased operation by the late 19th century; as of 1906, it housed the museum of transportation and construction. And from then on, more than a century of continuous usage and rebuilding history began, in which the museum was steadily expanded. The former passenger and freight train station with its adjacent facilities also stands out as an exhibit within its exhibitions. Following major renovations and an expansion by Josef Paul Kleihues (1992‒96), Hamburger Bahnhof became internationally known as the “Museum für Gegenwart” (Museum of the Present), accommodating contemporary art.

In 2003‒04 the Rieckhallen were integrated into the museum as the last remaining relict of railroad and local history. The halls, used in the 1960s for transferring goods from rail to road, were redeveloped as exhibition spaces. Based on a design by the architectural collective Kuehn-Malvezzi, the elongated freight depots’ typical architectural and spatial structure and construction elements were retained.

Hamburger Bahnhof, with its attached Rieckhallen, has established itself as one of the most important cultural venues in Berlin and Europe. The site’s protected monument status was bestowed because of its historical, artistic, urban development and scholarly significance.

The courageous decision of the German federal government and the state of Berlin to acquire the properties has laid the cornerstone for the sustainable development of Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart as a venue for cultural encounters in the heart of Berlin. The recognition of Hamburger Bahnhof’s buildings and green spaces as a historical monument site is a milestone in the museum’s history, which all visitors will be able to experience in special programme offers starting in June.

Till Fellrath, co-director of Hamburger Bahnhof with Sam Bardaouil