ME Collectors Room, Berlin

The ME Collectors Room in Berlin (May 2014), next door to the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, houses the marvelous Wunderkammer Olbricht.

Thomas Olbricht, (b. 1948), has put together one of the most extensive private collections in Europe, encompassing works from the early 16th century to the most recent contemporary art. The gallery is half a contemporary art gallery (downstairs) and half wonder cabinet (upstairs).

This Kunstkammer is a shadow of one originally assembled in Berlin by Elector Joachim II (1535 – 1571), rebuilt by Elector Friedrich Wilhelm and eventually housed in the City Palace by Friedrich III, but like so many it did not survive the Enlightenment.  Any remaining objects were dispersed to the new museums.

This private collection reanimates the idea of the wonder cabinet in Berlin and fulfills the ‘original intention of some two to five centuries ago: to transport the visitor into a realm of sheer astonishment’.  The cabinet houses a rich assemblage of antique objects, including the essential stuffed crocodile in the celling and mermaid, however it is invigorated by intermittent contemporary artworks.  These have been carefully chosen to sit comfortably with the other objects, with the effect of extending and reinvigorating the collection.