Berlin's contemporary art scene runs the gamut from the hip to the genteel. Ramshackled underground galleries thrive alongside posh international artist spaces in a city that has become a magnet for creatives in the decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Despite an influx of commercial art in some places, the city still exudes a raw, creative energy that has increasingly come to define it.
The flood of artist activity is helping to fuel a boom in tourism as travelers from around the world arrive to marvel at the ever-expanding art and architectural splendor of the city. The influx is also offering tour guides increasing business as travelers seek to navigate the maze of new gallery spaces in a city where art locations migrate from district to district searching for cheap rents and undiscovered spaces.
"Berlin has always been a city where some of the most interesting things going on are hidden from view," says Nele Heinevetter, of Niche Berlin, a boutique company that tailors customized art and architecture tours and events for aficionados and collectors as well as corporate clients. "We try to invite people to see what's going on in art and architecture behind the walls."
Heinevetter launched the firm in 2009 with partners Katharina Beckmann and Stefanie Gerke. Each comes with backgrounds in conservation, architecture and art history and that knowledge is reflected in their deep understanding of the city's cultural scene. But that sense of history and place hasn't stopped Niche from uncovering some of Berlin's cutting edge and emerging galleries for contemporary art.
The firm offers private tours, academic and corporate tours and consulting. Beyond just art, Niche organizes events and architectural tours in a city awash in contemporary design.
"The art scene in Berlin can be a bit of a moving target," says Heinevetter.. "Old spaces move or close their doors and new places open up fast."
A recent Niche tour included a trek along Potsdamer Strasse, a new cluster of gallery spaces aligned partly in West Berlin's Tiergarten district. Though still establishing itself as the next location for art in the city, galleries such as Blain|Southern, Klosterfelde, Nolan Judin gallery, and nonprofit Freies Museum Berlin have already set up spaces there in recent years.
"Wherever there is something interesting going on in Berlin's art and architecture scene will be there," adds Heinevetter.