How to visit a contemporary art museum? – The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum

The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum was born as a train station in the XIX century, and was transformed into a contemporary art museum only in the late ’80s.

Its collection includes works of Kiefer, Beuys, Lichtestein and Warhol, among numerous other artists and temporary exhibitions.

But how to properly visit a museum like this one?

First of all, it depends on many factors, like how much time you have, what you are interested in, how many works the museum has. But just assume that you don’t know anything about the museum itself, nor about its works, and you have time and a decent interest.

Contemporary art cannot be understood or appreciated just by looking at it (most of the times): when looking at a Caravaggio anyone can say that it’s very beautiful and it’s very interesting, but with contemporary art this is not so obvious. So the most important thing is to find information about the works. This means using an audioguide, or simply reading the labels. Of course you don’t have to read everything, it’s enough to concentrate on the works that catch your eyes! But pay attention to the explanations.

Moreover, the size of the objects really matters: many times with a very little piece of art the artist probably wants you to be careful, to look at the details, to make an effort to analyze it. Whereas with a very big painting or installation the artist wants you to get lost in it, to meditate on it.

Many times contemporary art is conceived as an experience, so you have to keep in mind all the senses you have, because it is probable that you will end up using all of them or almost all of them. There are works that are supposed to be touched, sniffed, works that you can enter in, sit on, see yourself in. Works you have to write on, move, see from different perspectives.

Contemporary art exhibitions are many times arranged to be followed in a certain order, in order to tell you something more than a sequence of artworks. We suggest you to follow the indicated path, and to think about why it was thought in that way, because many times this will give you a new point of view or a new message.

Contemporary art covers an infinite number of different themes, and there some in you may be more interested about: for example, there is feminism, war, history, nature, the relationship between man and nature, love, time, art itself, and so on. You can choose which is the theme you are more passionate about, or even choose something you want to explore more, and select the works that respond to this choice.

An interesting point is the bookshop: many times it is possible to read some books before buying them, and this can be a huge help to understand what you have just seen, even without buying anything. It is an occasion to discover other artists, other works by an artist you were impressed by, or just to see beautiful books full of images.

We hope that this was helpful for your next visits!

– M.C.

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