The Hidden Museum

Maria Austria, Die Tänzerin Ellen Edinoff, Amsterdam 1965 ©Maria Austria/Maria Austria Instituut

Berlin never stops surprising me. After 8 years here I still manage to discover exciting hidden gems. It is one of the reasons I love Berlin so much. 

Das Verborgene Museum (The Hidden Museum) is an excellent example. Located only 5 minutes away from my house and still I had not even heard about it until a week ago. Don’t expect large, bright halls. The Museum is concealed in the inner courtyard’s ground apartment of an Altbau building in Schlüterstraße – nonetheless definitely worth a visit.

The Museum, which was founded 30 years ago, is devoted to rediscovering the works and biographies of women artists who have fallen into obscurity due to various reasons. The museum is not bound to a particular genre – the connecting thread between the exhibitions is that these women artists have all been forgotten. Frequently, the exhibitions taking place here are the first recognition of the artists’ work in Germany after the Second World War.

The current exhibition is dedicated to Maria Austria – a Jewish photographer who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1915 and studied photography in Vienna like many young women from the middle class at that time. Soon after she finished her studies in 1936, she and her sister had to leave Austria together with the persecution of Jews on the rise. They fled to Amsterdam where she  went into hiding and survived without any papers. She worked for the Resistance producing passport photographs for false ID cards and working as a courier.  

Maria Austria, Foto: Henk Jonker ©Maria Austria/Maria Austria Instituut

Maria Austria survived and pursued her photography career after the war, developing her own unique path and style. Her works are characterized by a human and compassionate perspective, capturing images of the daily lives of people and reconstruction after the war with a lot of sensibility and patience. Later on she specialised in photojournalism (being one of the few active women in this profession in the Netherlands) and in theater photography as well, covering hundreds of stage plays, concerts, opera and ballet performances. Another project, which has never  been seen in Germany before is Maria Austria’s series of over 300 photographs of the “Achterhuis”, the back annex that became a secret home for persecuted Jews, including Anne Frank and her family. They hid there, not far from the hiding place of Maria Austria, from 1942 until they were betrayed to the Gestapo in 1944. 

Such an inspiring woman and artist. Sometimes there is no need for enormous halls to be touched by the encounter with a wonderful, unexpected exhibition.   

Das Verborgene Museum, Address: Schlüterstraße 70, 10625 Berlin.                        Opening hours: Thursday, Friday 15-19 ; Saturday, Sunday 12-16.

The exhibition is on until Sunday, 10th of March.


  • Many thanks Sophie R. for reading and commenting ♥