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Berlin Shakes Up Its Art Legacy -- from the NY Times

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Seeking a New Identity, Berlin Shakes Up Its Art Legacy


When Berlin was united in 1990, many Germans were equally united in not wanting this city to become too powerful. Their fears were understandable but have proved unfounded. Berlin is again the German capital, but of a federal republic inoculated against centralism. It has undergone extensive reconstruction, yet it remains poor, with no industry and an insolvent city government. Its problem now is, How can it demonstrate that it really is the new Berlin?

The answer may lie in old Berlin's one useful legacy. Because culture was a propaganda weapon, both West and East Berlin created huge cultural infrastructures, bequeathing no fewer than 3 opera houses, 8 orchestras, 17 theaters and 17 museums. Maintaining the performing arts became an immense burden to the united city, but the visual arts offered hope: the city's collections were fused, curatorial staffs joined forces, and a reorganization of galleries began.

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