The East Side Gallery is a world-famous collection of wall paintings that serves as a symbol of freedom and overcoming inhumanity. Occupying a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall, this open-air art gallery is located in the heart of Berlin on the so-called "Hinterland Mauer" running between Oberbaumbrücke and the Ostbahnhof, along the former borderline that ended at the Spree River and Mühlenstrasse.
After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, hundreds of artists from all over the world rushed to the scene and transformed the formerly untouchable stretch of the wall with their paintings, giving it a new face in a new era of freedom. The paintings depict that time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for better future that characterized that pivotal moment in world politics.
With over 100 murals on display, the East Side Gallery is the largest open-air art gallery in the world. Deemed a unique snapshot of post-/Mauerfall/ jubilation, the murals and the concrete wall sections of the East Side Gallery were placed under heritage protection in 1991. Some of the best known murals, such as the "Mortal Kiss" of Leonid Brezhnev's and Erich Hoenecker's mouth-to-mouth embrace by Dmitry Vrubel and "Test the Best" by Birgit Kinder depicting a Trabi bursting through the concrete, have become famous world over and attract hundreds of thousands visitors every year.
Despite its international acclaim and preservation efforts due to its national heritage status, regretfully the East Side Gallery did not stay immune to the elements and acts of vandalism. Graffiti, scratches and erosion have degraded the quality of some murals that had to be repainted in the last several years. The Artists Initiative is tasked with the restoration of the East Side Gallery which is currently underway.