Germany’s second city of Hamburg has a reputation as the design capital of the country, so it’s no surprise it has an extensive art scene that offers a good range of experiences in visual art for visitors to this Hanseatic city. It’s possible to roughly divide the places that you can see art in Hamburg into two categories: museums and the street, so here are some of the best of those for each.
The main art museums in Hamburg are all conveniently located very close together, along what is locally known as the Kunstmeile, or Art Mile. These include the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the Bucerius Kunstforum, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, and the Kunstverein Hamburg. You can buy a pass to all of these museums for €36 that’s valid over 12 months, so if you don’t manage to visit them all at once, you can always come back within a year!
The Hamburger Kunsthalle is the place to come for European art from the Middle Ages, and the museum’s impressive collection spans seven centuries of paintings, sculpture, and other media. It’s home to many famous pieces by masters such as Goya, Monet, Munch, and Picasso.
The Deichtorhallen Hamburg is worth a visit for its unusual architectural style, as well as its vast collection of contemporary art and fascinating temporary exhibitions. The range of artists who have been exhibited here include mostly German, but many international creators, and it’s also a great place to see some exemplary modern photography.
Other museums worth mentioning are the Erotic Art Museum, for, well, you guessed it, the Galerie Brockstedt for contemporary painting and sculpture, Flo Peters Gallery for photography, and Feinkunst Krüger, which promotes young, up-and-coming artists.
You’re very unlikely to just stumble upon street art in Hamburg unless you’re in the right part of town, as the city is rather prim and proper for the most part. To see art on the streets of Hamburg, there are two main parts of the city you should visit: the Gängeviertel, and the Schanzenviertel. The Gängeviertel is a historically working-class block made up of a handful of buildings within a wealthier part of central Hamburg, close to the metro station Gänsemarkt.
Since 2009, it has been taken over by various art, cultural, and social projects, and is host to a full programme of live music events, workshops, yoga classes, and much more. Walking through the courtyards that connect the buildings, you’ll see many pieces of street art, both painted onto the sides of the walls as well as weird and imaginative sculptures.
The Schanzenviertel, further removed from the centre of Hamburg to the northwest, is pretty much the only place in the city where you’ll see plenty of liberally-graffitied walls, and some gems of street art popping out in between the mess of posters, tags, and scribbles. If you keep an eye out for them, you’ll see pieces by Lieb Sein, Oz, Superfatcat, and several by El Bocho dotted between hipster cafes, vintage clothing stores, and vegan eateries.
Have you ever been to Hamburg? If so, do you have any suggestions or tips for people? If not, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!