PROTESTS PUSH BMW GUGG LAB INTO NEW HOMEApr. 3, 2012
Two weeks after Berlin protestors successfully scared off the BMW Guggenheim Lab from coming to the Kreuzberg district on May 24, 2012, the museum has announced a new site for the mobile lab, in Prenzlauer Berg, to open June 15-July 29, 2012.
The Berlin stop is part of a six-year, nine-city international tour planned for the carbon-fiber structure, housed most recently in an empty lot on East 2nd Street in Manhattan. The lab invites artists, architects and scholars to conduct a free "open dialogue about issues related to urban living."
But activists, concerned that the project would exacerbate gentrification in the arty, immigrant-friendly Kreuzberg neighborhood, launched a blog, held a community meeting and made threats online to "derail" the plans.
Gentrification has been a hot-button issue in Berlin in recent years and protestors in the past have targeted McDonald's, Subway and luxury condo developments. After police warned Guggenheim organizers that the situation could lead to violence, the museum announced that it would start looking elsewhere. "While we welcome vigorous debate, we cannot risk the possibility of violence, as raised by a small minority," read a statement.
Now the Guggenheim plans to set up shop in the old industrial Pfefferberg complex, in historic Prenzlauer Berg. "The decision to relocate the lab was not an easy one, but we are very pleased to have so quickly confirmed such a suitable alternative and to continue the urgent and important discussions we have begun about cities," said director Richard Armstrong in a statement. "The lab can only flourish through input and participation from people of all viewpoints, so in that sense the Berlin Lab has already begun."