There was a time when all prestigious museums in Berlin opened their doors for free every Thursday. Blame it on the recession, but those days are over. Luckily, Berlin also has a number of free museums, both established and off-beat. While you search for these hidden gems, you'll see a lot more of the city than most other tourists.
Located in the middle of the city at Potsdamer Platz, this art museum boasts a selection from automobile giant Daimler's collection of some 1800 pieces by 600 artists. Though the emphasis is on artists from south Germany, where Daimler is located, you'll also spot an odd Warhol here and there as well. Watch out for tongue-in-cheek exhibitions like "Cars and Art." Free every day.
Alte Potsdamer Straße 5
Pacifist Ernst Friedrich exhibited works by anti-war authors and artists in his modest museum in the 1920s. But the archives were confiscated and Friedrich was imprisoned when the Nazis came to power. Today, Friedrich's descendants and volunteers run a sobering exhibition on war's atrocities. On display are photographs, documents and objects from the World Wars. Free every day.
Brüsseler Straße 21
+49 (0)30 45 49 01 10
When you spot the rusty Soviet tank parked in the middle of a residential area, you've found the right place. The museum's building used to be an SS officers' school where the Wehrmacht officially surrendered to the Soviets. Today, it is home to Soviet propaganda, uniforms and documentaries that offer a glimpse into the fascinating German-Soviet relations from 1917 to 1990. Like all good historic museums, it also has a cheesy diorama of a battle scene. All that is completely free of charge. The museum is well worth the half-hour train ride from downtown to the eastern edge of the city. Closed on Mondays.
Zwieseler Straße 4
Tel.: +49 (0)30 50 15 08 52
Take that, New York--Berlin has a Guggenheim, too. Yes, it's small--more like a biggish gallery than a full museum. Still, the German Guggenheim puts on cutting-edge contemporary art shows in the heart of the city. The admission is usually 4€, but on Mondays (when many museums don't even bother opening), you can get in for free. Take advantage of the guided tour at 6pm, also free.
Unter den Linden 13/1510117 Berlin
+49 - (0)30 - 20 20 93
Originally aimed at teenagers, the free Jugend Museum has a permanent interactive exhibit on Berlin's ethnic diversity. But the real treasures, for both kids and grown-ups, are found in the basement, where you can immerse yourself in the German tradition of Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities.
Part ethnography and part zoology, the 27 wooden cabinets feature anything and everything collected from the surrounding Schöneberg neighborhood-from centuries-old ceramics to a 1920s toilet bowl. You can easily spend an hour learning about Berlin's present and past here.
Tel.: +49 (0)30 90277 61 63