Amtsalon is open!

Until June 24, 2021, the doors of the former Charlottenburg District Court are opening – as a pop-up of twenty-four Berlin galleries, united under one roof, showing selected works by their artists. We have spoken to Almut Grüntuch-Ernst and Armand Grüntuch, the founders of AMTSALON, about their idea to re-awaken forgotten spaces and the challenges to stage such an event in these times.

Photo: Bocci

Photo: Patricia Parinejad

How did the idea come about to unite twenty-four Berlin galleries under one roof for AMTSALON?

AG-E & AG: The idea for AMTSALON Berlin evolved out of the conversations we had over the past year with many Berlin gallery owners and artists. The art world has suffered greatly from the Corona pandemic – many events in 2020 and 2021 were canceled, including Art Basel and other fairs. There was a lack of physical exchange between artists and the public, collectors, and gallery owners. With AMTSALON Berlin, we wanted to create a platform on a smaller scale, where galleries and artists could meet to exchange ideas and create a kind of collective attraction.
In these times of constant restrictions, it was also very important for us to try to spread optimism and to keep moving. AMTSALON had to be rescheduled three times since the pandemic began. We would like to have opened the exhibition as early as December 2020 and are very happy that the project is finally going ahead and the building will be filled with life. 

With AMTSALON, a new place for culture and exchange is being created. What are your plans for the future? 

AG-E & AG: At the end of the 19th century, the courthouse and the associated prison building were erected as free-standing structures without any neighbors. Today, this building ensemble is firmly integrated into the Berlin city block and you can only see the former courthouse on Kantstrasse. Here, the transformation of the ensemble starts with AMTSALON. It is to become a multidisciplinary space for art, architecture, literature, fashion, and design in Berlin, bringing new life to this historic place through an inspiring mix of people and creative minds. With this in mind, we also chose to develop the adjacent former prison building into a hotel – we hope to open the gates and gardens soon.

You are both architects – how did you get involved in the Kantstraße 79 project?

AG-E & AG: It was an earlier project of ours, the renovation of the Jewish Girl’s School on Auguststrasse that deepened our interest in the potential of re-awakening forgotten spaces and buildings through sensitive transformation. We need to let these buildings from another time and context speak to us today, observe on what level and how they affect us, and then develop new programs in an intense dialogue with the space. 
In order to do this, one has to be willing to diverge from questions of design towards the programmatic level, and in doing so to take personal responsibility for the project. In the end, we decided to take the risk and run this project of Kantstraße 79 ourselves, knowing that this was the only way to ensure our vision for the space with its historical imprint. We aim to transform it without overwriting the past or relying solely on mechanisms of patina. We also strongly believe that it is worth diving into these processes, to actively engage as moderators to bring places and people together that create new social spaces of exchange.

AMTSALON Berlin can be visited from 17th to 24th June 2021 between 11 am – 7 pm. The visit is free of charge. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access will be regulated and operated in compliance with the Infection Protection Act. Visitors are therefore granted a maximum of 90 minutes access dependant on a valid access pass, which can be booked here.