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Street art museum opens in Berlin, a hub for the scene

Associated Press

Street art has a new, permanent home in Berlin.

Works by artists from around the world have gone on show at the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art in the German capital, located at one end of a street that is already something of a giant art gallery.

The opening exhibition, which will last for around nine months, aims to introduce visitors to the culture of urban art. Yasha Young, the museum's creative director, worked with eight curators from various countries to produce a show that explores strands including portraits, pop art and activism.

The scene so far has lacked an "informative hub," Young said Monday. She said that part of the idea is "teaching people a new language, which is the language of street art, graffiti and urban contemporary art."

A staircase decked out in British artist Ben Eine's colored lettering links the two floors of the new museum, which features work by artists familiar from the streets of Berlin and beyond.

There's a wall by Portuguese artist Vhils, works by New York-based Iranian duo Icy and Sot, Sao Paulo-based Marina Zumi and France's Mademoiselle Maurice, among others — some of whose works grace or have graced facades on the street outside and elsewhere in the city. One of Banksy's "Gangsta Rats" is also present.

The museum also hosts a library that centers on street art photographer Martha Cooper's archive of books and magazines.

Young envisions the museum — four years in the making — as "an archive and a hub" in a city that is itself an urban art hub.

"There's so many people here from all over the world living here because Berlin is still in the spirit of, maybe, old New York," she said. "It is affordable, it is good for an artist to be here, the networks are great."

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