East Side Gallery Timeline


The Berlin Wall Timeline | Part 2

Also see the full Berlin Wall Timeline (1945-1989) and our East Side Gallery page.

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The East Side Gallery during restoration work in 2009. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

In October 2008 the most recent attempt to preserve and renovate the East Side Gallery section of the Berlin Wall had its official start. Completed in time for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this latest restoration was the best funded and most ambitious of several renovation projects since the East Side Gallery was created in 1990.

East Side Gallery Timeline (1990-Present)

  • 1961 | Early on 13 August, East German troops and workers begin stringing barbed wire and setting up barriers for what will eventually become the Berlin Wall.
  • 1989 | On November 9 during an evening news conference, the East German government announces that citizens of the German Democratic Republic will now be permitted to travel without restrictions — effective immediately. Unaware of this sudden change in policy, border guards are overwhelmed by crowds of East Berliners who want to cross into West Berlin. The Berlin Wall will soon almost completely disappear.
  • 1990 | In February, 118 artists from 21 countries gather to create the East Side Gallery along a 1.3 km section of the Wall running along Mühlenstraße in Berlin-Friedrichshain from the Ostbahnhof (East Train Station) to the Oberbaum Bridge. The Gallery has its official debut on 28 September.
  • 1990 | The German Unity Treaty designates 3 October as the official date of German reunification and the new national holiday.
  • 1992 | Partial restoration of the Gallery by various artists. The cheap paint used in 1990 is already beginning to peel off and weather.
  • 1996 | The Künstlerinitiative East Side Gallery e.V. (Artists Initiative) is formed in April to provide an organization to promote the restoration and preservation of the Gallery. Another partial restoration of the East Side Gallery is carried out.
  • 1998 | Some artists carry out yet another restoration of their paintings.
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A largely ignored sign at the East Side Gallery. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

  • 2000 | With support from a paint manufacturing association, 40 artists repaint 42 pictures on one third (333 m) of the length of the East Side Gallery during the summer.
  • 2002 | Concrete work and restoration of parts of the Wall itself.
  • 2004 | More concrete work and restoration of parts of the Wall. Most of the paintings continue to deteriorate.
  • 2006 | In September construction begins on the O2 World events center on the site of the former East Freight Train Yard just across from the East Side Gallery. Later, despite protests and landmark protection, a 45-meter section of the Wall is taken down to allow access to the Spree River.
  • 2008 | 15 October: Kick-off ceremonies for the 2008/2009 East Side Gallery restoration project. Almost one million euros of funding has been provided by the city of Berlin and the Deutsche Klassenlotterie (national lottery).
  • 2008 | The grand opening of the O2 World (now the Mercedes-Benz Arena) on 10 September.
  • 2009 | In April, work begins on a major restoration of 105 paintings at the East Side Gallery — with the goal of completion in time for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (in November).
  • 2009 | By the November deadline, the project has restored works by 98 of 113 surviving artists. A total of 74 original artists restored their own works, while other sections were renovated by other artists. In official ceremonies with the artists and Berlin politicians on Nov. 6, 2009 the restoration is declared complete, although some work will continue into December. Of 106 remaining Wall paintings, 99 have been fully restored.
  • 2009 | Critics call the East Side Gallery, as it now stands, a “kind of Disneyland for tourists” that has sections missing and no longer reflects its historic character. Proponents counter that without the restoration efforts, this section of the Wall could disappear completely.
  • 2011 | On August 13, 2011, the world observes the 50th anniversary of the Wall’s construction in 1961.
  • 2012 | On Nov. 9, 2012, Germany and the world commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
  • 2013 | In February Berlin newspapers report plans to remove a few meters of the East Side Gallery in order to have access to a planned pedestrian bridge over the Spree. There are protests against that plan and the proposed construction of apartment buildings along the river.

Next | The East Side Gallery

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