Berlin’s biggest cultural center is the Kulturforum, an affiliation of 12 prestigious museums, galleries, libraries, churches and concert halls whose overall concept was designed by Modernist architect Hans Scharoun in the 1960s. The forum sits just off Potsdamer Platz, which was brutally divided by the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, and it came to represent West German success in the face of increasing poverty and degradation in East Germany before the Wall was ripped down in 1989. Today it is highly regarded both for its architectural diversity and its top-quality museums.
Places of interest at the Kulturforum include the Gemäldegalerie, with a world-class collection of medieval art, and the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery), a steel and-glass masterpiece designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1968 that houses Germany’s most important collection of European art — it is currently closed until 2019 for refurbishment. Along with collections of musical instruments and graphic arts, the Museum of Applied Art (Kunstgewerbemuseum) is also on the plaza, housed in purpose-built gallery designed by Rolf Gutbrod in 1985. Likewise the Berlin Philharmonic and State Library (Staatsbibliothek) are located in the Kulturforum and both are the work of Hans Scharoun. A new Museum of Modern Art is scheduled for 2020.
Matthäikirchplatz, Berlin. Opening hours and admission depend on venue, but all the museums are closed on Monday. Entry with the Berlin Pass is free. There are U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations in Potsdamer Platz, a five-minute walk from Matthäikirchplatz.