Culture + Style

How a Nazi War Bunker Became a Secret Art Collection in Berlin

You’ll need an appointment to see the Boros Collection of contemporary art hidden in a Nazi bunker. (Photos: Robbie Lawrence/VSCO)

The best thing about the Boros Collection isn’t that it contains scores of contemporary works by artists like Damien Hirst and Wolfgang Tillmans or even that it holds a piece of a full-size Statue of Liberty replica – it’s that the whole thing feels like a big secret.

Towering over Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, this structure might not look like an exhibition space from the outside, but inside is a highly curated private collection that can only be seen by appointment.

boros collection art

boros collection exhibit

The Boros began life as an Albert Speer-designed Nazi war bunker – one the Third Reich thought would see it through a final battle leading to German victory. After World War II, it became part of Soviet-controlled East Berlin and was used to detain German soldiers. More innocuously, when the Berlin Wall fell, it was transformed into a storage space for fruits and vegetables and in the 1990s even had a stint as venue for heady underground raves.

boros collection exhibit

boros collection interior

boros collection graffiti stairwell

That all changed in 2003 when advertising mogul Christian Boros and his wife Karen acquired the structure for their decades-strong art collection.

The pair had an interior architect remove 40 of the existing 120 rooms and threw the doors open to the public in 2007. Today, the space is all concrete walls, giant art installations and tour guides explaining why there are two sets of parallel, Escher-like staircases leading to each floor.

The present collection sees the bunker host over 80 pieces, but they’re going to be switched in 2016 as part of Boros’ commitment to rejigger the exhibition every four years.

When you do pay a visit, don’t forget to look up before you go inside: Boros’ expansive penthouse apartment sits on top of the building underneath an enormous steel and concrete roof.

Marriott Hotels explored the Boros Collection as part of a collaboration with VSCO’s photographers to create city guides for Paris; Berlin; Cairo; Taipei; and Portland, Ore. Check out: A Full Guide on How to Travel Brilliantly in Berlin.

Where to Find the Boros Collection

  • Address: 20 Reinhardtstrasse, Berlin
  • Tel: +49 30 2759 4065
  • Hours: By appointment only. Thurs. 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.