We are excited to find out about the Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums), a yearly event that invites everyone to explore the multitude of museums here in Berlin. There are several shuttle lines and pages of descriptions to pour through to plan. The events begin at 18:00 (6 pm) and continue past midnight.
Purchase tickets online. Check. Pick shuttle route. Check. Map a route to the beginning of the route. Check.
We notice the Ibero-American Institute also known as IAI, on our approach to Kulturforum. The IAI is the largest specialized European library with a focus on Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean. It collects and preserves all types of materials including belles-lettres, humanities, social sciences, economics, jurisprudence, and geological, agricultural and environmental sciences.
We arrive at Kulturforum .The Kulturforum is a postwar collection of cultural buildings in West Berlin erected after many cultural icons were walled off by the Berlin Wall. The buildings are designed by famous German modernist architects Hans Scharoun and Mies van der Rohe. We stop briefly at the St. Matthäus-Kirche church in search for our shuttle stop.
Sculpture across from St. Matthäus-Kirche church at Kulturforum
1st stop German Cinematheque – German film from silent films to today.
Across the street, we happen upon a star for Marlene Dietrich, a beloved German and US film star.
We enter the exhibit through a winding walkway of photos, metal and mirrors. The sign at the entrance tells a brief history of German cinema, noting “The stars of early German cinema are women.” This theme follows us throughout the exhibits.
Fern Andra is one of the stars. Her monumental career in film dates back to 1913. Andra moved into the film industry from a career in the circus as an American tightrope artist. After several successful films, she also started her own production company. She produced and directed films about the circus, and was a master of public relations. Her daring onscreen stunts and off-screen personal life antics attracted lots of free publicity from German newspapers.
Metropolis, the pioneering silent German sci-fi film, made in 1927, is one of the featured exhibits. Just last week, a restored version was shown at the UFA film festival here in Berlin.
And then, Dietrich. Here is the temple to Dietrich’s costumes from Sailor to Diva:
The film museum references a postwar divided Berlin. The Russian (Russich) district became East Berlin and part of East Germany, the GDR – German Democratic Republic – communist not democratic, despite its name.
We head to stop 2, Museum for Communication (Museum für Kommunikation):
The Communications Museum has a wide range of exhibits. The building is lovely, neo-Baroque architecture. Originally founded in 1872 as a postal museum, this museum boasts the oldest collection of stamps, along with other communication tools. There is a “Wells Fargoesque” stagecoach hanging from the ceiling in one rooms, walls of phones in another, and drawers full of interesting maps, along with a display of the Preußisches (Prussian) telegrafenalphabet signal pole. The telegrafenalphabet was used along railroad lines to send messages from station to station. In the museum atrium, a DJ played American music from the 1950s with a few couples dancing in vintage outfits. The German Elvis is scheduled to appear later in the evening.
We continue on the tour, Stop 3 is to be Martin-Gropius-Bau museum, but somehow we never arrive at our stop. After about 45 minutes, instead we arrive at the German Museum of Technology – Ladestraße, a stop we had planned to miss?
Here the museum is mainly filled with vehicles, most motorized. Las Chicas wander through with little attention for the exhibits. The swing dancing reminds us of Lindy Hop in Plaza Virriena in Barcelona, but we pass and continue on. One exhibit catches our eye, the hybrid car, Fiat 500 Elektro-Hybrid, 1962/1968. Remarkable that this technology was around so many years before it became available to the public.
Berlin Botanical Gardens (Botanischer Garten)
Mary comes across a summer concert series at the botanical gardens, so on Friday we head there after work, but Frau Ticket Booth says the event is sold out! Instead we listen to the Cuban music sitting on the grass with picnicking locals, just outside of the concert area.
The gardens are a vast expanse of forest, plants, meadows, grasses and massive glass greenhouses. We drink in nature (curated, planted, trimmed), listening to the birds and roaming the grounds.
An odd exhibit of two bicycles welded together is outside the cafe. It appears that one person must pedal backwards, if the bike is to go in one direction. We don’t quite understand the purpose, except that the cyclists will be protected from the rain.
We come across some type of shade-hardy grass experiment,
and visit the “crystal palace,” a gargantuan tropical greenhouse, about 4 stories high, filled with rainforest plants and flowers.
Dusk settles in and we head back to the train, strolling down a shady avenue of mansions. The mansions turn out to be embassies, like the Jordanian Embassy. We also pass the Iranian Embassy with its extra security: police phone booth and two guards in front.
© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2017