Giving shelter from air raids to thousands of citizens during the Second World War, to a poster child for Berlin’s contemporary art scene: ad exec Christian Boros and his wife Karen, an art historian, bought the former bunker in 2003 — having a collection of some 700 pieces of art that they couldn’t help but share.
After half a decade of reconstruction, the bunker reopened its doors in 2007, the first exhibition covering a surface of thousands of square metres space. Many concrete walls had been removed, the number of rooms reduced to 80 … gaining spacious rooms prime for monumental works.
The bunker hadn’t only served as a shelter during the Second World War, but as a fetish club during the 1990s, too. You’ll find Thomas Scheibitz work Tinte und Zucker (Ink and Sugar) in one room, formerly serving as the club’s ‘dark room’. The walls still pockmarked with black paint; a reminder of the decadence that followed the fall of the wall.
Every exhibition is curated by Christian and Karen Boros themselves, and displays a selection of their collection for a duration of four years. The Boroses collect not just from big-name international artists, but also buy up numerous pieces from aspiring artists … many hailing from here, Germany’s art capital.
Many artists have created works exclusively for the Boros collection, the majority installing their works in person; like artist Dirk Bell, who has installed his 35 square metre drawing on the 5th floor. It’s part of a goal to display works where they have been created, along with giving young talents a stage and voice; Berlin-based duo Manon Awst and Benjamin Walther display one of their pieces close to Ai Weiwei’s famous six metre Tree.
Due to security reasons, it’s only possible to visit with a guided tour — which are booked out weeks in advance. Young and passionate guides run them; most are students from a variety of fields, bringing their own unique approach. Unlike any other gallery, at Sammlung Boros you’ll not find a description adjacent to the works.
But this is not a typical gallery.
Up on the roof of the bunker, Christian and Karen have built themselves a 450 square metre penthouse, where they live with their son. Living together under a single roof, side-by-side with their precious collection has always been a dream to them; that’s why Christian Boros likes to call the bunker his ‘hobby-cellar’. We can but dream.