Märkisches Museum (Mitte)
Märkisches Museum at Köllnischer Park is the parent house of the Stadtmuseum foundation, Stadtmuseum being the state museum for the culture and history of Berlin. It houses the permanent exhibition „Hier ist Berlin“ (Here is Berlin), mainly providing information about the change of different streets and quarters of Berlin during the centuries. The museum was already founded in 1874 as „Märkisches Provinzialmuseum“ and has been located in a purpose-built structure in the style of Wilhelminian historism since 1908.
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The biggest museum of the city lies underground. „Berliner Unterwelten“ (Berlin underworlds), a registered society, has been organising guided tours to underground sites since 1997, including former shelter tunnels from World War II, discarded parts of the sewer network or closed down underground stations. Also on offer: the remains of the Humboldthain flak tower, the catacombs of the former Kindl brewery or some flight tunnels from the time of the Berlin wall. The tours take place all-season and last between 90 and 180 minutes. There also is a seasonal, but permanent exhibition on display on the mezzanine of Gesundbrunnen underground station: „Mythos Germania“ (The Myth of Germania) centres on the monumental construction project of the national socialists during the Third Reich.
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One city, two parts. For 28 long years, East and West Berliners were separated by the wall. The iconic structure has remained a symbol for the city even a quarter of a century after its fall. Furthermore it is a memorial for freedom and self-determination. The Mauermuseum at Checkpoint Charlie provides information on the construction and the significance of the massive border fortification between NATO and Warsaw Pact territory. It also highlights the fates of those who were bold enough to flee over the wall to the West.
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During the period of Germany’s partition the secret police („Stasi“) of the German Democratic Republic operated a prison in East Berlin. People accused of high treason and „Republikflucht“ (fleeing from East Germany) were harassed and submitted to psychological torture there. Complete isolation and sleep deprivation were used amongst other methods to demoralise and mentally destabilize prisoners. Today, former inmates of the Stasi prison Hohenschönhausen show visitors round the premises and give an account of the warders’ methods and their own time in the remand centre. There are also temporary exhibitions and a permanent display about the prison and the system of political persecution in the GDR.
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Erinnerungsstätte Notaufnahmelager Marienfelde
Around four million people fled from East to West Germany between 1949 and 1990. Most of them came across the border in Berlin. This was possible until the construction of the wall, since Berlin was in itself divided into one Eastern and three Western sectors. For the refugees, the „Notaufnahmelager“ (emergency refugee camp) in Marienfelde was the first place to go on their way to a uncertain future. Here, in the south of Berlin, the immigrants from the ‚other Germany‘ found shelter and were prepared for a life beyond the communist regime. Today, the Notaufnahmelager Marienfelde memorial provides information about the conditions in the camp and the relations between East and West Germany during the Cold War in general.
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Olympisches Dorf (Elstal)
The Olympic Games 1936 in Berlin have remained in the collective memory as the games of a nice illusion above all. The national socialists misused them for sugarcoated self-expression to the world and to conceal their repressive race policy. Besides the Olympic Stadium in Charlottenburg there is a place in Wustermark which also commemorates the event. The 1936 Olympic village is run by the DKB Stiftung für gesellschaftliches Engagement (foundation for social commitment) as a museum. Besides the „Speisesaal der Nationen“ (dining-hall of nations) in Bauhaus style, the renovated quarters of ten times gold-medal winner Jesse Owens and the former indoor swimming pool are of special interest.
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Story of Berlin (Charlottenburg)
The interactive museum „The Story of Berlin“ traces the changeful history of the city – from the first settlement to the capital of Germany. Visitors can find out about the development of Berlin and the social and political changes by means of multi-media installations and original exhibits. There are 23 theme rooms to discover on 6000 square metres. Another highlight: a guided tour through the former fallout shelter under Kurfürstendamm, to which the museum is attached.
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U-Bahnhof Klosterstraße (Mitte)
If you are interested in the history of Berlin’s public transport you neither need much time nor money. Near Alexanderplatz there is a small ‚museum‘ which doesn’t charge anything and is accessible nearly all day. On the platform of Klosterstraße underground station walls are not decorated with advertising posters but with 20 depictions of public transport vehicles, from one of the first city busses from 1890 up to an East Berlin tram from 1962. Furthermore, there is an original waggon of the former „Schöneberger Untergrundbahn“ (today: underground line U4) on display at the northern exit.
Alliierten Museum (Dahlem)
The „Alliierten Museum“ (Allied forces museum) in Clayallee honours the commitment of the three occupying powers USA, Great Britain and France for the freedom of West Berlin during Cold War. It is situated in the former US armed forces cinema „Outpost“ and the Nicholson memorial library in Dahlem. The exhibition comprises of an outdoor area with old military vehicles and sentry posts, and an interior, where you can catch up on the life of allied soldiers during the occupation of Berlin and the political tension of Cold War.
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Zille Museum (Mitte)
He is one of the city’s original characters. Draughtsman Heinrich Zille became famous around the turn of last century for his illustrations of working class Berlin. The sketches, with captions in local dialect, are a mixture of tragedy and comic relief. They are considered as evidence of the sordid conditions in urban working class neighbourhoods during the time of proceeding industrialization. Zille Museum in Nikolaiviertel provides information on life and oeuvre of the artist. There are around 50 original works on display, showing scenes from pubs, factories and backyards. On arrival, you can also watch a 45-minute documentary, comprising of photos, short film clips and drafts of the artist.
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