Picture This // Art for loan at Mitte’s Artothek library

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Once upon a time, for our parents’ generation maybe, it seems there were clear milestones that marked entry into adulthood: first proper office job, buying a home, getting married, becoming a parent. If it ever really was that straightforward, it certainly isn’t anymore. I’m in my 30s and most of the time I don’t feel like an adult at all. And even my friends who do have proper office jobs and mortgages and children whose very survival depends on them would probably agree.

Every now and then, however, I manage some little achievement that feels exceptionally grown-up. Like the first year I saved all the receipts to make clever deductions on my income taxes. Or the first time I voluntarily spent €80 to have my teeth buffed, scraped, and fluorided, which is an expensive and aggravating thing to endure once a year but hey, it’s good for you. I believe kids these days call this “adulting” (as in, “Didn’t go out last night, in bed by 10. #adulting so hard”) but I’m pretty sure I’m too old to use their lingo.

My latest adult achievement: hanging art on my walls. Like, real art from a gallery, created by real artists and professionally framed and everything (not Ikea!). This feels to me like a very grown-up thing. And thanks to an art lending library in Mitte, it’s basically free.

The n.b.k., or Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, is an association for contemporary art in Mitte that holds a variety of exhibitions and events, though its really unique draw is its Artothek art library. The library’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art is huge (4000 works plus) and includes pieces from the likes of Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Marina Abramović, and Robert Rauschenberg. From what I gathered in the hour I spent browsing before I could make up my mind, the collection is predominately paintings, from impressionist to modern and everything in between, but there are also prints, drawings, photos, and even sculptures for loan. Though you can browse the collection online, it’s best to just go in and flip through the racks, as many of the pieces are lent out at any given time.

Anyone aged 16+ with a registered address in Berlin can join on the spot and sign out numerous artworks for up to 6 months. The only cost is €3 for damage/theft insurance per piece, per three-month period.

I love how the library makes “owning” good art accessible to the masses, but I also find the impermanence really appealing: Picking out art to hang on my wall for good is a daunting prospect. Swapping it out whenever the whim strikes, on the other hand, is right up my alley. Getting over fear of commitment: the next step in adulting?

n.b.k. Artothek | Chausseestr. 128 | Website
Open Tues & Thurs 14—20.00, Weds & Fri 14—18.00

1 Comment
  • Catherine
    February 27, 2017

    Great paintings that you have selected. They really accentuate your place! I’d love to have something similar in our city. Just wonder how the artists/store make profit from the business model.

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