A Night at the Museums
Saturday was Nachtansichten. My feet are sore, I’m tired, and I have a bit of a headache, probably from the lights. It’s a Nachtansichten hangover. Every Spring in Bielefeld, the city stays up past midnight and gets a little bit wild, all in the name of creativity. Over 50 museums, art galleries, and churches open their doors for special late-night exhibits, and the Altstadt becomes a playground for creativity and light. For a 12 Euro ticket, you have entrance into any exhibit in the city, with free bus and train fare included.
Sampling the City
The most popular stop: Dr. Oetker. While Dr. Oetker doesn’t exist in the States, it is a huge company in Europe headquartered in Bielefeld. The food manufacturer makes everything from cocoa powder to frozen pizzas, and during Nachtansichten, opens up Dr. Oetker Welt with exhibits on the manufacturing process, and of course, tons of free samples and food from their employee restaurant. We started our night here, with a line wrapped around the block of people waiting to enter.
We lasted about 3 minutes in that line before we gave up. For one thing, Dr. Oetker Welt is open year-round, free samples or not. And I’ve been to Costco enough times to know what to expect. I’d rather explore the museum when less people are jockeying for a look at the exhibits, or sticking their hands in the literal candy bowl. Bis später, Dr. Oetker.
A Little Art
If we learned anything from our attempt at visiting Dr. Oetker Welt, it was that the more popular museums, like Kunsthalle and Bauernhaus Museum, would probably be overcrowded and difficult to get into. We decided to stick to the smaller galleries and boy, am I glad we did.
We took the train away from the Mitte and explored some smaller galleries. The artwork was varied, beautiful, haunting, compelling, and inspiring. We saw oil paintings and watercolors, mixed-media and graffitti, kinetics and robotics. Every venue had live music, food and drinks, and plenty of people enjoying themselves. It was an exercise of sensory muscles I hadn’t used in a while. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve been to an art museum or an art gallery. I missed it.
But Nachtansichten is not really an event geared for long studies of artwork or thoughtful gazing. It’s an up-tempo, high-volume event jammed with plenty to do and way too much to see. The highlight being the buildings and courtyards in the Altstadt colored in lights.
Bielefeld takes the art to the streets with outdoor exhibits and performances. During Nachtansichten, the Rathaus and other buildings in the Altstadt are lit with projectors that the public can control and adjust the colors on. It’s fun, engaging, and beautiful.
During Nachtansichten, I visited places I didn’t know existed. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. I was introduced to a different side of Bielefeld. It’s more laidback, creative, and friendly. Sampling the city through Bielefeld’s Nachtansichten event was a perfect way to try out the museums and galleries, and prepare for Summer. Plus, now I have a booklet stuffed with info on the city’s best exhibits. We’re ready for any visitor and any interest! We got you covered!
What is your favorite way to explore your city?