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10.09.2020

A Fictitious Family Excursion to the New Gasteig

A Fictitious Family Excursion to the New Gasteig Benedikt Feiten

An open day at the New Gasteig in Haidhausen district, some time in 2026. The whole family is there, we’re meeting friends at the Deutsches Museum and together amble across the river Isar on the Ludwigsbrücke. To our left, on Rosenheimer Berg, the Gasteig is gleaming in the sunlight.

Like a massive shop window, its glass façade provides a glimpse of the foyers even from afar. Is that a grand piano in there? Are those kids waving at us? With every step towards it, the bustle at the Gasteig casts an ever-stronger spell on us.

An urban meeting place
We begin the gentle ascent to the »gacher Steig« (steep path), to which the Gasteig owes its name. Before us, almost like a small amphitheatre, an impressive staircase comes into view.  The children insist on an ice cream, so let’s take a short break. Colourful letters declare the pedestal currently occupied by a young trumpet player to be the »Speakersʼ Corner«. Now he is announcing the open stage session and inviting all who want to take part. Already, there are a few people, guitars on their laps, waiting for their turn and a percussion ensemble, drums lined up in front of them, looking for their common beat.

Activity spaces for all
Fired up by these impressions, we walk across the Celibidacheforum. Families picnic under shady chestnut trees, children chase pigeons across the courtyard, we watch dancers swinging their hips to the sound of live Latin music. Huge soap bubbles float around a stilt walker in colourful make-up. To our right, an open-air cinema screen: Here, we will witness a live concert from the new Philharmonic Hall later tonight. Art and cinema in the open air. And the weather? Could not be better!

Boundless openness in Europe’s largest cultural centre
With great anticipation, we are taking the first step into Munich’s gigantic cultural venue: The New Gasteig smells of fresh wood, and bright colours and light dominate the view, giving us a subtle, warm sense of welcome. »Welcome! Karibuni! Bienvenue! Hoşgeldiniz!« The large reception counter has information for guests from all over the world. All five of Gasteig’s partner organisations are represented at this central port of call: the Munich Philharmonic, the Munich City Library, the Münchner Volkshochschule adult education centre, the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich and – the newest Gasteig resident – the Münchener Kammerorchester (MKO).

Interdisciplinary and cross-generational cultural education
A sign with an arrow points us to our next destination, the taster workshops on the ground floor. Our youngest visitors now play a much greater role in the Gasteig. While parents attend events, their kids are cared for and can experience arts and culture in a format that is tailored to their age group. Supervised by professionals, they can try out instruments, draw their own comics, attend a photo safari or try what it feels like to stand on stage. But not only children can try out, experiment and participate: Together with a crowd of other culture enthusiasts, we take a guided tour of the labs of the new cultural education centre in the Gasteig located on the ground floor. Here, for example in the media lab or recording studio, and accompanied by experts, people of all ages can take part in the exciting interdisciplinary projects.

Open Library: knowledge round the clock
Via wide staircases, we reach the world of books that is the Munich City Library. We can imagine pupils meeting here to work in groups in the niches designed remove distractions, or to play video games in the activity areas created for this purpose. We then explore the upper levels, where further atriums, and wide window surfaces fill the Gasteig’s corridors with light. Next to us, a band discusses the set for the upcoming gig; round the next corner, a man in a suit is typing on his laptop. Thanks to the latest technology, there is free fast WLAN everywhere in the Gasteig and round-the-clock media rental.

Roof terrace – the perfect meeting place
A wonderful oasis! The scent of herbs and flowers fills the redeveloped rooftop and learning garden. Raised beds advertise the adult education centre’s urban gardening activities and lounge furniture invites visitors to take a seat and relax. Easily accessible from all parts of the building, this lofty location is where the creatives and visitors to the Gasteig meet. Like the Gasteig’s bees, we can indulge in all kinds of temptations here, high above the Munich roofscape – from making our own honey to taking advantage of the open book and magazine lending service, meeting for foreign-language conversation, rolling out our yoga mats or relaxing in the reading café.

Versatile venues for breath-taking events
Back on the first floor, we walk along the glass façade towards the Philharmonic Hall. Trainers and high heels, in T-shirts and suits – the variety of clothing styles found here highlights the diversity of Gasteig visitors. We pass the new Carl Orff Hall, which now boasts a multifunctional folding parquet floor that allows it to be transformed into a congress hall, cinema, dance floor, or auditorium for pop, jazz or chamber music. This is the new home of the Münchener Kammerorchester (MKO).

Culture in all its facets
Piano music emanates from the foyer of the Philharmonic Hall. Visitors, sitting on steps and in window niches, listen to the jazzy tunes a young piano student from the University of Music elicits from the gleaming black grand piano. A sense of premiere is in the air. There is still some time left before the Munich Philharmonic concert in the new Philharmonic Hall begins, which we want to witness on the big screen under the starlit sky. Where shall we wander now? Brimming with excitement after all the new impressions, our kids declare they are hungry, so we amble to the rooftop restaurant above the Philharmonic Hall.

Wonderful views
We are lucky with the weather and have a clear view of the city as the evening sun bathes Munich in a magical light. From up here, we can look far over the roofscape, immediately before us Munich’s unmistakable landmark the Frauenkirche. To the north, looking along the river Isar, we can see first the Maximilianeum and much further in the distance the Allianz arena. Looking south, you can even see the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. A magnificent, inspiring panorama: Perhaps, in the not too distant future, budding composers will be poring over scores here, creatives discussing their visionary ideas, stars shaking hands with each other? Certainly, people from all over Munich will be enjoying magical moments at their new favourite place in their city – just like us!


Illustrations: Benedikt Feiten
Text: Maria Zimmerer

What do you want to experience in the New Gasteig? Keep your fingers crossed in fall 2020, when the city council will be deciding whether and to what extent the redevelopment plans will be put into practice. For further information and current insights, visit www.der-neue-gasteig.de.

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