Berlin has over 170 museums, and a lot has been written about the best of them, from the Pergamon and the Jewish Museum to the Hamburger Bahnhof and Martin Gropius Building. But with so many, there have to be some that are, well, a little odd. Here are five of them.
1. The Museum of Things (Museum der Dinge)
Where else but in the heart of Kreuzberg would you find a museum whose title alone is enough to send you on a philosophical roller coaster? I mean, all museums have things in them, so what is a museum of things? Turns out that it's a museum of industrial design with a very special concept - instead of focusing on the design, style or period of production, it sorts things according to their function and color, grouping together 'red phones', 'brown vases' and so on.
2. The Museum of Unheard-of Things (Museum der Unerhörten Dinge)
If the museum of things sent you reeling, this one will really rock your perception as to what museums are all about. If you manage to adjust yourself to the impossible opening hours, you will find an exhibition that purposely resembles a museum warehouse, where exhibits lie in wait to be sorted, defined and explained. The result resembles a modern-day version of the 19th-Century cabinets of curiosities, from a communist-era wooden car to an attempted cross between an oak and an olive.
3. The Museum of Computer Games (Computerspielemuseum )
Photo: San Andreas/Wikimedia Commons, license: CC-BY-SA-3.0
This one is probably the least unusual of the lot, or at least the one which will eventually become more commonplace in the future. After all, computer games are today's entertainment, akin to cinema and theater in the past. And yet, as someone who came of age in the late 80s, it's weird to see Space Invaders and Super Mario presented as if they were stone-age dinosaurs. Not to mention that curious German game where you get a painful electrical shock every time your opponent scores a point.
4. The German Museum of The Curry Hot Dog (Deutsches Currywurst Museum)
The crazy thing about this museum is its specificity - not just a museum of fast food, or of hot dogs, but of a particular kind of hot dog condiment (which isn't that tasty to begin with). But that's what happens when a city adopts a particular food as its symbol and keeps feeding it to the tourists (literally). The museum flaunts its interactive design with "virtual Currywurst making" and "a spice chamber with sniffing stations" - but it all boils down to ketchup with some curry powder.
5. The Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie (Mauermuseum - Haus am Checkpoint Charlie)
Photo: Johann H. Addicks (jha@de.Wikipedia); license: CC-BY-SA-3.0
This one shouldn't really be on the list - it deals with a legitimate topic (The Berlin Wall), appears in all major guidebooks and is visited by thousands each year. Its inclusion here is more of a warning as to the extremely unusual style of the exhibition, which resembles the doomsday bunker of an obsessive madman. Pictures, newspaper clippings and texts in four languages (English, Russian, French and German) cover the walls and ceiling in no apparent order, invading the eyes with egregious information. Add the staunch anti-communist lean of the proprietors (at one point they equate the wall with the crimes of the Nazis) and you get a museum that doesn't try to explain the world to you, but rather shouts random insults with a very large megaphone.