Berlin’s House of World Cultures Receives $10.6 Million Renovation Grant

Berliners dubbed its iconic structure 'the pregnant oyster.'

The House of World Cultures was the US contribution to the INTERBAU building exhibition in 1957. Photo: Sabine Wenzel via HKW

The German parliament’s budget committee has approved a €10 million ($10.6 million) grant to Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures, or HKW) for the refurbishment of the museum’s building.

The structure, an iconic example of 1950s architecture, is scheduled to undergo essential renovation and modernization work starting 2016.

Designed by the American architect Hugh Stubbins in 1957, the building was a gift to West Germany from the United States. Today, the building is a venue for contemporary art, dance and music performances with a focus on non-European culture and society, and a forum for lectures and exhibitions on current events.

Its visual art and film department is headed by curator Anselm Franke, who staged influential essay-show series such as Animism, The Anthropocene Project, and Ape Culture at the HKW.

John F. Kennedy gave a speech at the building during a visit to Berlin in 1963 during the Cold War. Photo:

John F. Kennedy gave a speech at the building during a visit to West Berlin in 1963.

The overhaul would also accommodate the increasingly complex prerequisites of productions, exhibitions, concerts, and talks across all areas of the arts. “With this additional funding the House of World Culture’s future plans and projects have been secured for the next decade,” the institution said in a press release.

Bernd Scherer, Director of the HKW said the grant ensured the sustainability of not only the museum’s program, but also the building’s structural and technical parameters. He added that the overhaul and modernization of the building would significantly strengthen the institution’s position for the future.

Today the building is a museum focusing on non-European contemporary art. Photo:

Today the building is a museum focusing on non-European contemporary art.

The announcement of the development grant comes after the Bundestag budget committee approved €20 million ($21.4 million) in funding towards the refurbishment of Munich’s historic Haus der Kunst, putting an end to the Bavarian museum’s funding crisis.

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