Art Collections & World War II

The great art collections of old Berlin suffered during and after World War II. Although many paintings were saved by being stored in salt mines, many larger works were destroyed by fire. Part of the surviving art stayed in the east, including a wealth of ancient treasures that remind us of the leading role played by German archaeologists during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The paintings that turned up in the west, and were passed from nation to nation in the late 1940s, have nearly all been returned to Berlin.

Modern Art in a World War II Bunker

Collector Christian Boros, who owns a vast collection of contemporary art, operates a unique gallery in a converted World War II 1942 air raid bunker in Berlin's Mitte district. The former State Railway Bunker was constructed to protect up to 2,000 passengers from the Berlin-Friedrichstrasse Railway station and local citizens during Allied air raids. After the Nazi collapse, Russia's Red Army took over the bunker and turned it into a prison; from the 1950s, it was used for fruit and vegetable storage.

Boros bought the bunker in 2003 and spent the next five years converting its interior into a dramatic exhibit space to display paintings, including some 500 works in all, with such world-class names as Damian Hirst, Olafur Eliasson, Elilzabeth Peyton, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Anselm Reyle. The rooftop has been converted into a kind of penthouse with a garden. The bunker's monumental character has been retained, and the markings of war are still visible on both the exterior and the interior. The Boros Collection can be viewed only on Saturday and Sunday, costing 10€ per person. Reservations for tours are available only on the Web at

The bunker lies on the corner of Albrechtstrasse and Reinhardtstrasse in Berlin Mitte (U-Bahn: Oranienburger Tor).

Never on a Monday
Many (but not all) of Berlin’s museums are closed Mondays throughout the year. They’re also closed January 1; December 24, 25, and 31; and the Tuesday after Easter. The biggies on Museum Island—the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum—are now open daily.

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