Me Collector’s Room
If you’re looking for an afternoon in Berlin a little less ordinary then Me Collector’s Room is an obvious choice. Situated on Augustrasse in Mitte, it is the only remaining cabinet of curiosities left in Germany after its war torn past, and displays an impressive collection of over 200 unusual objects from around the world.
Founded by collector and scholar Thomas Olbricht, the collection was a natural progression from the regular lending of his artefacts to various institutions around Germany – ‘Moving Energies’ being one of these and what the ‘Me’ in the venue’s title stands for.
Divided into two sections, the venue houses Olbricht’s permanent Wunderkammer collection besides a changing art exhibition. The Wunderkammer begins upstairs and immediately commands your attention with the head and neck of a Giraffe, nonchalantly staring outwards from a corner. More everyday is the collection of DHL truck figurines which also greet you at the beginning of the experience, demonstrating Olbricht’s passion for collecting objects even as a young boy – a collector in the truest form.
Further on is the horn of the legendary unicorn, known now to be the tusk of a narwahl but still otherworldly and fantastical in appearance. Natural phenomenon feature frequently throughout the collection, cabinets of curiosity specialising in such found wonders as well as scientific instruments and anatomical models, all reflecting the contemporary standard of knowledge their viewers possessed.
Highlights from the mammoth collection include cups made of exotic materials such as coconut and nautilus (a type of marine mollusk), preserved specimens of a Nile crocodile, a great blue turaco and a coconut chalice adorned with images of Brazilian cannibals; previously owned by Alexander von Humboldt.
Particularly disturbing is the preserved shrunken head from a Jivaroan tribe in Ecuador, its eyes, mouth and nose sewn shut, hair hanging limply. This practice reflects upon tribal traditions and war but also upon our human preoccupation with death. The wooden shrine housing dozens of intricately carved miniature skulls also demonstrates clearly this vanitas motif running throughout the exhibition, and draws attention to the pertinence of the topic no matter the time.
Spanning around half a century, the aim of the collection is not to provoke admiration but
“sheer astonishment”, which apparently since the 16th century has been considered as the first step towards the gaining of knowledge and insight. Despite it being the 21st century and having travelled further than the average Victorian I was definitely astonished by this incredible collection, and highly doubt that there are many who wouldn’t at least be impressed.
Me Collector’s Room
Augustrasse 68 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: Tuesdays – Sundays, 12 – 6pm