If there’s one thing that Berlin has no shortage of, it’s museums. There are an estimated 175 scattered across town, which means that even if you were living in Berlin and visited one museum every weekend, it would still take you over 3 years to see them all. Now that’s a challenge I wish I could take!
When it comes to visiting museums in Berlin, it’s usually the ones like the German Historical Museum, the Topography of Terror, or the Pergamon Museum that get most of the attention. It’s also easy to just focus on the 5 museums clustered together on Museum Island, however, if you’re willing to do a bit of legwork, there are some rather unusual ones worth seeking out. Here is a list of just a few of those:
Museum of Extraordinary Things
The Museum of Extraordinary Things (Museum der unerhörten Dinge) technically translates into the Museum of Unheard Things, but regardless of its name, it’s still one of the most unusual museums in town. So what can you expect to find here? A little bit of anything, really. To some people it may look like this museum is filled with knick-knacks, but the idea behind their unique collection is that even the most ordinary of objects have the most extraordinary stories to tell – that could be something as simple as an earring, a child’s toy, or a bottle of wine.
Address: Crellestraße 5-6
German Currywurst Museum
The German Currywurst Museum (Deutsches Currywurst Museum) is dedicated to the beloved snack that originated in the streets of Berlin in 1949. Currywurst consists of a sausage (wurst) that has been steamed and then fried. It is then sliced up, served with a curry-ketchup concoction, and sprinkled with more curry powder overtop. The best thing about this museum is that at the end of the visit, you can sample some Currywurst for yourself! You can read more about my visit here.
Address: Schützenstraße 70
Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum (Musikinstrumenten-Museum) collects European classical music instruments from the 16th to 21st century. The museum has a collection of nearly 3200 instruments, 800 of which are on display in the permanent collection, and what’s even more surprising is that many of these are still playable hundreds of years later.
Address: Tiergartenstraße 1 inside Berlin’s Culture Forum (Kulturforum).
Medical History Museum
Sometimes nicknamed “Berlin’s Cabinet of Horrors”, the Medical History Museum (Medizinhistorisches Museum) is not one for the faint of heart. The museum shows the development of medical science over the past 300 years, including medical instruments, textbooks, and a collection of roughly 900 rare anatomical samples – we’re talking human body parts here. Because some of the objects in this exhibition can make a rather strong impression, visitors under 16 are not permitted unless accompanied by a guardian.
Address: Charitéplatz 1
The DDR Museum looks at life in the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), or what we call the German Democratic Republic. It’s a fascinating look at what everyday life was like in socialist East Germany. The museum recreates living spaces so you can set foot in an East German living room, it showcases learning materials that would have been used in schools, and it even has the coveted Trabant, which would have been the car of choice.
Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 1
The word Stasi comes from Staatssicherheit and it refers to the State Security Service which spied on the population through a network of citizens turned informants during the Cold War. The museum is located on the former grounds of the GDR’s Ministry for State Security, and the exhibition takes a look at the people who worked for this institution and the methods they employed.
Address: Ruschestraße 103
The Kennedys Museum
John F. Kennedy won many Berliners over when he showed solidarity by uttering the famous words, “Ich bin ein Berliner”. The exhibition focuses on the life of John F. Kennedy and his term as president, and it includes numerous photographs, video recordings, and personal belongings of the family.
Address: Auguststraße 11-13
Museum of Letters
The Museum of Letters, also known as Das Buchstabenmuseum, deals with typography. The pieces within this museum are made up of rescued letters and forgotten signage from old businesses across the city. The museum documents the history of each of these signs and also delves into the typographic qualities; it’s a popular one with designers!
Address: Moving! New location coming soon.
The Trabi Museum is dedicated to the Trabant, a car that was produced in former East Germany and that was also the most common vehicle around. This car wasn’t very reliable, and it was known for breaking down often, but despite its shortcomings, it’s what got people around. If a visit to this museum is not enough, you can also sign up for Trabi Safaris in Berlin, which allow you to explore the city while riding in this iconic car.
Address: Zimmerstraße 14-15
Like the name suggests, the Sugar Museum is focused on one thing along: sugar. The museum explores sugar as a commodity, its role in colonial trade and slavery, and it takes a scientific look at the substance as well as its presence in every facet of life. Berlin also has a surprising connection to sugar since it was German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf who developed the extraction of sugar from beets in 1747.
Address: Trebbiner Straße 9, inside the German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum).
Do you know of any other unusual museums in Berlin?
What’s the strangest museum you’ve ever visited?