Somewhere in between the modern architecture of the Reinhardtstrasse in Mitte you may notice an unusual building. This enormous aerial bunker from the 2nd world war, with a modern appartment on top, is the former Reichsbahnbunker Friedrichstrasse. It is also known as the Boros bunker, after its owners Christian and Karen Boros. It houses their modern art collection of about 700 works which you can visit. Not all works are shown at the same time, the exhibition changes every 4 years.
History of the Boros bunker
After the first bombings of Berlin during the 2nd World War, Hitler demanded many bomb-proof shelters for the city’s population. The development of bunkers, in the same renaissance style as of other buildings designed for the World Capital Germania, was lead by Albert Speer.
The Reichsbahnbunker Friedrichstrasse was built for train passengers and employees of the Friedrichstrasse station nearby. Forced labourers built it for 1200 people overground, because of the relatively wet grounds. It was completed in 1942 and gave shelter to about 4000 citizens at the end of the war.
As it was simply not possible to demolish this bunker, without damaging the entire area (the walls are some meters thick), the building was kept and got the status of a monument.
After the war the bunker was used by the Soviet Red Army to detain prisoners of war. Later the building was the ideal warehouse for the storage of textile and of exotic fruits from Cuba by the VEB Obst Gemüse Speisekartoffeln. Hence it was called the Banana Bunker.
In the early 90s, after the wende, it was a perfect venue to host the techno- fetishclub “the Bunker”, also known as “the hardest club on earth”. After a few years, the club had been closed and only a few events took place since then.
The Boros couple bought the bunker in 2003 and renovated it to make it feasibly to house their art collection. Walls were removed to reduce the amount of rooms to 80, and some ceilings were removed to create some split level areas. Although it sounds simple, it was not an easy operation and in this way approximately 3000 square meter of exhibition space was created. On top a unique penthouse was built where the two owners live.
The Boros Collection
The Polish businessman Christian Boros, started to collect contemporary art in 1990. Since then his collection has grown to about 700 works of various kinds, such as photos, paintings and installations by international artists such as Ai Weiwei.
For me the contemporary art itself was just a bonus. It was great being in this building and to experience the contrast between the history of the old bunker and the modern art, which is a unique combination.
Normally you can visit the exhibition only by appointment on friday, saturday and sunday. However, due to a change of the exhibition the Boros bunker will be closed between february and april 2017. As a final chance to see the current exhibition, you can visit the bunker without reservation on january 21st and 22nd between 10 am and 6 pm. There are many guides walking around to explain the works and tell about the history of the building. The bunker will reopen with the new exhibition in may 2017.
Reinhardtstrasse 20 10117 Berlin-Mitte
Entrance fee 12 Euro