Gallery Complex Tries to Revitalize Berlin’s Mitte District


German dealer Michael Fuchs is undertaking an ambitious development project. He will rent a former Jewish girls’ school for the next 20 years and turn it into an arts complex. The former co-owner of Berlin’s Galerie Haas + Fuchs got the space for an undisclosed sum and began renovating the over 10,000-square-foot building roughly two years ago, investing over $6.6 million into the project. The building is on Auguststraße, directly opposite Kunst-Werke, and served as a venue for the 2006 Berlin Biennale. Scheduled to open officially on Feb. 10, it will house at least three galleries.

Judy Lybke, of EIGEN + ART, has rented two rooms and a hallway in the new complex for three years, calling the space EIGEN + ART Lab (opens Mar. 29). It will be the gallery’s second Berlin art space and will showcase international artists, including British artist Ryan Mosley and the young Lyon-based Marc Desgrandchamps.

The new complex will also include a second space Berlin location for the established photo gallery Camera Work, which shows classic fashion photographers by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and Peter Lindbergh. It will be inaugurated with an exhibition by Robert Polidori.

Fuchs closed his joint venture Haas + Fuchs in West Berlin, which he ran for 14 years with Michael Haas (showing well-known artists such as Frank Stella, Michael Craig-Martin and Chuck Close), at the end of 2011. He will open his own gallery in the building.

The classrooms, dorms, gym and communal bathrooms have been freshly refurbished, and include a restaurant and café run by the proprietors of art scene’s favorites, Grill Royal and King Size Bar.

The renovation attempts to revitalize Mitte, a once cutting-edge gallery district in Berlin. In its ’90s heyday, the street hosted project spaces run by now established dealers Guido W. Baudach, Friedrich Loock, Alexander Schroeder and Joanna Kamm. Emerging dealers, such as Matthias Arndt, Bruno Brunnet, Alexander Ochs, Tim Neuger and Burkhard Riemschneider or Judy Lybke soon set up shop. As their project spaces became commercial (Galerie NEU, Galerie Loock, Galerie Kamm), they moved to other neighborhoods and opened more spacious locations.