Berlin Museum of Photography

Stuart Forster heads to Germany’s capital city to look inside the Berlin Museum of Photography, known as the Museum für Fotografie in German, and visit the Helmut Newton Foundation.

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If you appreciate good photography then you’ll probably already know that a visit to Berlin’s Museum of Photography should be part of your itinerary while visiting Germany’s capital city.

Helmut Newton Foundation

The museum exhibits work by two organisations. Over the first two floors, you view exhibits by the Helmut Newton Foundation. The Art Library’s Photographic Collection is on the second floor.

A series of Helmut Newton‘s nude photographs hang above the red carpet of the staircase behind the museum reception. Newton was one of the twentieth century’s most influential commercial and fashion photographers. He was born in Berlin in 1920 as Helmut Neustaedter.

His father was a Jewish factory owner and his mother an American. National Socialist persecution forced the family to emigrate, in 1938. Young Helmut made his way to Singapore, from where he was eventually sent to Australia.

Helmut Newton’s early years

Even before leaving Germany, Newton had been interested in photography and served an apprenticeship under the photographer Yva (Else Simon) in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district.

Having learned portraiture, fashion and nude photography skills, he found work in fashion and theatre photography in post-war Australia. In Melbourne, in 1948, he married June Browne, who became a photographer in her own right, known under the pseudonym Alice Springs.

One of the videos shown in the museum provides an insight into how the couple enriched each others’ creativity with long, late discussions, during which they exchanged ideas for possible photographic shoots.

Helmut Newton’s Private Property

Despite fleeing Germany in the 1930s, Newton remained fond of Berlin.

He grew up in the Schoeneberg district of the city and, later, undertook commissions for the German magazine Stern.

His services to German culture were rewarded with Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz (The Grand Cross of Merit).

In 2003 Newton donated a body of photography and personal items to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. From this, the Helmut Newton Foundation was established.

Newton, unfortunately, did not live long enough to see the 2004 opening of the permanent Helmut Newton’s Private Property exhibition.

Photography museum in Berlin

A life-size cut-out of Newton greets visitors to the ground floor exhibition. The exhibits include a collection of his cameras and equipment, the beach buggy-like Newton Mobile 200 vehicle and his reconstructed Monaco office.

Copies of letters of condolence sent to his wife provide evidence of the high regard in which he was held by magazine editors and public figures.

Newton’s work was widely published in glossy magazines, including editions of Vogue, Elle and Paris Match. He also undertook commissions for a number of leading fashion houses. His photographs, many in the form of exhibition posters, are shown on the ground floor.

You can take a seat on benches in front of monitors and watch videos of Newton at work, instructing models and assistants. In the films, he strives to ensure that the composition and lighting of his photographs are exactly how he envisioned. The exhibitions on the first floor change regularly.

The top floor of the Museum of Photography is also used to show temporary exhibitions. The Kaisersaal (Emperor’s Hall) provides a pleasant, well-lit exhibition space. The photography ranges from retrospectives by well-known photographers to works by up-and-coming talent.

Map of Berlin Museum of Photography

The map of Berlin below shows the location of the Museum of Photography (Museum für Fotografie) on Jebenstrasse in the Charlottenburg district of the city:

Google Map of the Museum of Photography in Berlin, Germany. 

Travel to the Berlin Museum of Photography

Berlin Airport (IATA code BER) is the principal entry point for air travellers arriving in Germany’s capital city.

The S-Bahn’s S9 and S45 lines connect the airport and central Berlin. Airport Express and regional trains also run between the airport and Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the city’s central station.

Visit the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe website for information about public transport in Berlin, including fares and timetables.

Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten is the closest public transport station to the Museum of Photography. U-Bahns and buses also call at nearby Kurfürstendamm.

Hotels in Berlin

Search and book accommodation in Berlin, Germany, via HRS:

Books about Helmut Newton and Berlin

Keen to know more about Helmut Newton and Berlin? You can buy the following books from Amazon by clicking on the links or the cover photos shown below:

Helmut Newton. Legacy by Matthias Harder and Philippe Garner:

Helmut Newton: Sumo (20th-anniversary edition):

Helmut Newton. Work:

Only in Berlin: A Guide to Unique Locations, Hidden Corners and Unusual Objects by Duncan J. D. Smith:

Further information

See the Museum of Photography (Jebenstrasse 2, 10623 Berlin) website for information about opening times, exhibitions and entry prices.

The Visit Berlin and German National Tourist Board websites are useful sources about things to do in the German capital.

Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post about the Berlin Museum of Photography and Helmut Newton Foundation. If you are planning a winter trip to the German capital you may be interested in reading about the Christmas markets held in Berlin.

Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is a travel writer from northeast England. He speaks fluent German and is a frequent visitor to Germany.

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A version of this post was initially published on Go Eat Do on 15 December 2013.

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  • James Cutter

    January 26, 2018 at 07:43 Reply

    It’s a fine museum and essential visiting if you appreciate the work of this iconic fashion photographer.

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