The hulking, slightly ominous-looking, detached building 2km southwest of Karlsruhe’s Schloss was once a munitions factory, but like so many defunct industrial buildings it has leant itself superbly to becoming an exhibition space. The Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, or ZKM, occupies the building’s vast airy halls, and includes cafés and restaurants, space for regular and dependably great temporary exhibitions as well as three excellent museums; a combined day-ticket permits entry to all.

Medientechnologie

Art and gadgetry collide in the Medienmuseum which is chock-full of entertaining electronic gimmicks that synthesize various elements of music, film, photography and design into creative and interactive art installations which can easily take all day to explore. Activities include using electronic dice to create a pastiche of a waltz by irreverently cobbling together bars of Mozart; using a vast image library to create collages; and shooting small movies using geometric shapes. All this is of course based on computer technology, so as a tribute you can see the maze of tubes and cables of the world’s oldest operable computer (1941). Look out also for the 1950s-and 1960s-vintage optical illusions of the Neuer Tendenzen, or Nouvelles Tendances, an avant-garde school of art that pioneered this style. If all this hasn’t left you fuzzy headed enough, the top floor of the museum is replete with various playable video games from every era.

Museum für Neue Kunst

After Medientechnologie, the Museum für Neue Kunst (Museum for Contemporary Art) could easily be an anticlimax, but its thoughtful exhibits are engaging, and include 1960s Pop Art, but are usually dominated by contemporary art that reflects on aspects of modern-day Germany.

Städtische Galerie

At the end of the ZKM, and accessed by a separate entrance, is the Städtische Galerie, the most staid – if still accomplished – of the ZKM museum trio. It focuses on local and postwar German art, but is usually most worthwhile for its temporary exhibitions, which try for broad popular appeal – such as exhibitions of graphic novels.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

European beach holidays haven’t always been just about the Mediterranean. A century ago, the resorts along the Baltic Sea were just as likely to attract the E…

16 Mar 2018 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

Syria has been shattered by conflict since March 2011; more than 5 million people have been forced to flee the country and rebuild their lives elsewhere. Jessi…

28 Dec 2017 • Jessica Bateman local_activity Special feature
20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right