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DAS MINSK enables dialogues between art and history

The former terrace restaurant »Minsk« 

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The former terrace restaurant »Minsk« was built from 1971 to 1977 on Potsdam’s Brauhausberg in the modernist style of the GDR according to a design by the architects Karl-Heinz Birkholz and Wolfgang Müller.

As early as 1962, the development of the Brauhausberg area was planned with a swimming hall and a restaurant, connected through a terrace complex with fountains. That the so-called Brauhausberg Ensemble would only be finished many years later is, on one hand, due to the fact that the rubble was not cleared from the area until 1967, and on the other hand due to financial shortages in the city of Potsdam’s economic plan and difficulties procuring materials. The architect Karl-Heinz Birkholz reported in an interview[1] that the steel intended for the construction was used for the completion of the Palast der Republik in Berlin, among other projects. The swimming hall opened in 1971. However, it was to take another six years before construction was finished on the restaurant. In 1977, the terrace restaurant »Minsk« was finally completed with the participation of Minsk artists and architects as a Belarusian folklore restaurant. Conversely, the city of Minsk had already opened the restaurant »Potsdam« in 1971. The naming partnership is based on the exchange between the two cities that began in 1968.[2]

During GDR, the »Minsk« was a popular place of recreation and excursion destination. The restaurant was a place where guests came together, talked, celebrated, and danced. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restaurant’s closure in the mid-90s, the building was increasingly neglected, and the ruin ultimately seemed doomed for demolition. It was the citizens of Potsdam who actively helped to prevent the demolition plans. In 2019, the Hasso Plattner Foundation purchased the building to refurbish it and make it accessible to the public once more. The old »Minsk« thus became DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam.

Inside the building, reminiscences of the old »Minsk« can be found, such as the large spiral staircase and the rounded bar counter, but with a new look: the interior design of the foyer and bar was realized by the architectural office Linearama from Genoa in collaboration with the Hedwig Bollhagen Werkstätten in Markwitz, Brandenburg.

[1] See Jörg Fröhlich and Luise Fröhlich, Das Potsdamer Terrassenrestaurant »Minsk« und der Brauhausberg im Wandel der Zeit (1970–2015), Norderstedt 2015, p. 59.

[2] See Thomas Wernicke, »Minsk – Potsdam. Zwei Städte, zwei Restaurants und die ›deutsch-sowjetische Freundschaft‹«, in: Mitteilungen des Vereins für Kultur und Geschichte Potsdams, 23, ed. by the Vorstand der Studiengemeinschaft Sanssouci e. V., Potsdam 2018, pp. 7–32, here pp. 9–28.

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