Discovering the Reichstag's contemporary art treasures

An installation by Hans Haacke in a courtyard of the Reichstag, Berlin

A visit to the Reichstag dome features prominently on the to-do list of many Berlin visitors, and it's certainly true that the stunning cupola provides one of the city's real highlights.

But it's also possible to get right inside Germany's seat of government and, while you're at it, view a collection of art by some of the world's leading contemporary artists.

The Reichstag's Art and Architecture tours provide a close look at Berlin's most emblematic building, and also include entrance to the dome itself, so there's no need to miss out on those spectacular city views.

Yet for many, it's the building's collection of powerful artworks that leave the greatest impression, with most of the pieces specially commissioned to reflect the Reichstag's turbulent history.

Contemporary art works in Berlin's Reichstag: Christian Boltanski
'Hitler's box' - part of an installation by Christian Boltanski in Berlin's Reichstag, the metal container is frequently vandalised by visitors

One of the most interesting installations, for example - by renowned French artist Christian Boltanski (above) - consists of an eerily austere corridor lined with metal despatch boxes. Each is labelled with the name of one of Germany's elected Parliamentary members from 1919-1999 - Adolf Hitler among them.

The decision to include the Nazi leader wasn't, of course, taken lightly, but serves as a sobering reminder that the National Socialists initially gained power via democratic means. The box marked with Hitler's name is consistently vandalised by visitors; proof that art can provoke powerful responses.

An artwork by Jenny Holzer in the Reichstag, Berlinr
Gerhard Richter's interpretation of the German flag, one of the many contemporary art works in Berlin's Reichstag

Other highlights on the Reichstag art tour include the illuminated courtyard installation 'To the population' by Hans Haacke (page top); an LED display by US artist Jenny Holzer, which continuously displays key political speeches (above left), and a large-scale work by Gerhard Richter that transforms the German flag into one of the art luminary's multi-million dollar abstractions (above right).

And these are just a few of the important works on show by a total of 28 world-renowned artists.

But it's not just the Reichstag that boasts a treasure trove of hidden artworks. Adjacent governmental buildings are all endowed with site-specific pieces including, in the Jakob Kaiser administrative block, an installation by British artist Antony Gormley so impressive that we've decided to dedicate an entire page to this little-known gem.

So before making the (obligatory) reservation to visit the Reichstag dome, check out all the tour options available for the Bundestag complex. That lofty glass cupola may be one of Berlin's most famous attractions, but the city's corridors of power offer plenty more sightseeing opportunities.

See also:
A hidden Berlin contemporary masterpiece
Berlin's other wall
Art for free in the Potsdamer Platz

Visit the Bundestag's website to download a guided tours brochure with current times and details. Bookings and more information via besucherdienst (at)

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