Berlin has a new art museum, and it’s a great destination for anyone who is interested in so-called street art. It’s called Urban Nation.
For many years, street art has been nothing more than a public nuisance. Some scribble on the wall, hastily left on back lane walls under the cover of a moonless night. A provocative marker, left behind by anonymous figures who enjoyed the cat and mouse game with police. But things have changed over time.
Shaking off the Chains of Illegality
Street art has matured. Artists have risen from the foggy underground scene, have made names for them themselves, creating their own brands. Instead of having to apply guerrilla tactics to live and share their art they are now being invited to beautify cities such as Paris, New York, or London.
More and more often, street art is being curated. Town planners accept that public art left on grey and dull walls can have a positive and uplifting effect. Street art no longer has to be criminalised, it is now widely accepted.
To understand the scene, the development of urban art, and to get an idea of all the different styles and techniques used, Berlin’s latest addition to the art scene, Urban Art is a great place to visit. You will find here the great stars of the scene as well as a lot of up and coming artists, such as Blek Le Rat, Shepard Fairey, Specter, and ROA.
Urban Nation is a Must-See in Berlin
In its custom-made interior you can enjoy some of the finest contemporary artwork out there, now removed from its urban environment yet no less challenging, enchanting, or shocking. My comment to the organisers when we left was that this must be one of the best museums you can find in Berlin at the moment. It is that good.
Urban Nation does not allow commercial photography inside so I cannot share with you what you might see within the gallery. However, what I can indeed show you is all the wonderful urban art that you can find in the immediate vicinity, all commissioned as part of the Urban Nation project. Just take the underground train to Bülowstrasse and follow the train line towards Nollendorfplatz to explore the great murals along both sides of the road.
Urban Nation is open every day except Mondays. Best of all: Entry to Urban Nation is free. Here is more information. More photos from the outdoor street art gallery along Bülowstrasse below. For our 7-day Berlin itinerary which also features this museum, click here.
Check out this excellent book on Berlin’s ever-evolving street art scene: