The best place to start...The Hoff...
Updated: Jun 1
When deciding which museum to review first, I instinctively knew it had to be the David Hasselhoff Museum, which ironically is not even on my list of 190 museums as it is not listed in the Berlin Museum Portal! I'm sure there are other obscure and totally awesome and absurd museums not on the Berlin official list, so you can be sure that if I know of them, they will make my list! I am always open to new and exciting adventures so any recommendations are also welcome. The David Hasselhoff museum is a very small museum (like 5 square meters, small) but none the less, it holds a very important place in many tourist itinerary plans. Case in point; my first visit to the museum was last summer when my two best friends from Canada came to visit for the first time. When I asked what was a ‘must-see' on their sightseeing list the Hasselhoff Museum was right up there. I had, of course, known of the museum for years and tourists often asked me about it on tours but I had never made the trek (even though I pass it multiple times a week).
Housed in the basement of the Circus Hostel in the trendy Mitte/Prenzlauerberg district on Weinbergsweg, a very popular district for hip restaurants, bars and cafés that is near the U2 Rosenthalerplatz.
The idea began in 2006 when bartender Sebastian Need started a little shrine to Germany’s most beloved non-German. Over the years it grew and grew until the Hostel decided to turn it into a permanent exhibition in 2015. The museum contains a large mural of The Hoff hand-painted by a hostel guest which originally had glued on chest hair that has, unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, been stolen over the years. It also contains various Hoff memorabilia including exhibit cases showcasing Baywatch and Night Rider as well as a replica of the famous piano scarf worn by The Hoff for his famous Berlin Wall New Years' Eve celebrations in 1989-two months after The Wall fell. You might now be asking yourself ‘I don’t get The Hoff obsession’. Don’t worry you are not alone, I’m 5 years into my Berlin life and I STILL don’t get it. But here’s a little summary for those inquisitive minds:
After the success of the T.V. Show Knight Rider in the early 1980’s, like so many other actors do; he launched his musical career. His 3rd studio album (who knew there were so many?!) “Looking for Freedom” despite being basically completely unheard of in North American, achieved triple platinum in Europe with the title track reaching #1 on the German pop charts in the spring of 1989 and staying there for 8 weeks right before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The song “Looking for Freedom” was actually originally written by Jack White a German native, and released two times previously in German under the name “Auf Der Straße nach Süden” (On the Road to the South).
Due to its success at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and its title and lyrics Hasselhoff was invited to sing it at the New Years Celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate suspended in the air by a bucket crane over the Berlin Wall. The piece became an emblem of unity and freedom during these changing times and cemented The Hoff’s fame as the man who single-handedly brought down the Berlin Wall...Just kidding, but this story was actually perpetuated afterwards due to an off-hand comment that The Hoff made in an interview to Spielfilm Magazine a German newspaper in 2004 saying "I find it a bit sad that there is no photo of me hanging on the walls in the Berlin Museum at Checkpoint Charlie” which was interpreted as him saying that he played a roll in the fall of The Wall. Don’t miss my review of this Berlin Museum next week!
If you’ve never heard “Looking for Freedom” here is the original 1978 German version with Tony Marshall. If you know anything about German’s love for Schlager music, it’s not hard to see how a reinvention of this piece with English lyrics and suave Hollywood actor not only dropped the median listening age down about 40 years but guaranteed it's European success. Check out The Hoff’s clip from the 1989 New Years Eve performance, flashing lightbulb jacket and all…because…well, the 80’s. But seriously, looking at the audience attire, you’d think you were still in the ’80s in parts of Berlin…not that that's a bad thing or anything.
And so, back to the museum itself. The museum is free! You walk into the hostel and tell reception that you would like to see The Hasselhoff Museum and they will point you to the basement where it is located. The first time I went in the summer of 2019 the receptionist gave us each tokens for free beer afterwards as there is a microbrewery and bar in the basement directly across from the museum. After spending an ebullient 7 whole minutes walking through the museum and taking pictures with the giant Hoff mural, a beer was in order. I’m not sure if the free beer token was a consolation prize for making the trek all the way to see the 5 square meter museum or if it was in the hopes that we would stay and buy more, but at any rate, it was a nice touch and one that I sadly did not receive (and was somewhat indignantly expecting) the next time I went with a friend in January of this year. If you are now wondering 'come on now, really, how legit is this museum?'. Well, it's officially endorsed by The Hoff himself who spontaneously visited his namesake museum in 2017 and added his signature of approval!
If you are interested in the quirky and the absurd I highly recommend this museum especially if you also wanted to check out the district of Prenzlauerberg. It makes a great start to an afternoon/early evening: Start at The Museum, get your picture with The Hoff, saunter 2 meters over to the bar for a craft beer, and then head on up Kastanienalle stopping at the cafes, bars, restaurants and independent stores along the way up the hill. Once in Prenzlauerberg, do the tourist thing and stop for a Currywurst at Konnopke's Imbiss or the not-as -much-tourist-thing and have a chicken döner at K'Ups Gemüsekebab. If its Sunday you can check out Mauerpark: the most famous flea market in Berlin and the worlds largest outdoor Karaoke amphitheatre. Or head further down Bernauerstraße and check out the official Berlin Wall memorial museum and outdoor gallery. Also pop into Pratergarten, Berlin's oldest Beer garden or Kulturbrauerei; a 19th Century Schultheiss beer brewery complex converted into shops and nightclubs and galleries. Finish off with dinner and drinks in Kollwitzplatz down the road and then head over to Stargarterstraße for late-night drinks and shenanigans or hope on the S-Bahn to Warschauerstraße and checkout Berlin's famous all-nighter club scene. Or. Start in Reverse because this museum is open 24/7! Also, kid and A.D.D adult-friendly, since it takes about 7 minutes to walk through.