Letters From Berlin

Berlin’s Buchstabenmuseum features neon and other display lettering rescued from old buildings and shopfronts, making it a must-see for any type-inclined visitor

Berlin’s Buchstabenmuseum features neon and other display lettering rescued from old buildings and shopfronts, making it a must-see for any type-inclined visitor

Housed (for the time-being) in an old East Berlin supermarket, the Buchstabenmuseum features hundreds of letters that were casualties of the ceaseless redevelopment of Berlin as well as contributions from elsewhere in Germany.


Founders graphic designer Barbara Dechant and curator Anja Schulze began their mission to preserve, restore and exhibit lettering and signage from Berlin and beyond in 2005. Their first museum opened in 2008 before relocating to its current site at Jannowitzbrücke last year.



Without sponsorship or government support, the museum exists purely on entry fees and the €26 subscriptions paid by its members, many of whom also volunteer at the museum and help in acquiring new letters and signs when the museum receives one of its regular tip-offs.

The museum features letters from a variety of eras and styles. Working neon displays are mixed with metal and more modern, plastic pieces while the loading bay is jam-packed with new additions for which there is currently no room in the main exhibition.


All photographs above by Andrea Katheder


At the back of the museum, in the supermarket’s old cold room, is a blow-up display of the various elements which make up a neon letter


All photographs below by Daniel Burgoyne (hey, he was cheap!)


Many of the letters are displayed in the state in which they arrived at the museum, preserving every cobweb and intruding piece of plant life



My personal favourite was this neon display for an aquarium shop (see above also). The designer got in touch with the museum after he had ben told his work was on display and donated his drawings for the sign which are now also exhibited


This one also caught my eye…


The museum is currently searching for permanent premises but can can be found for the moment at Holzmarktstraße 66, 10179 Berlin. Nearest U- and S-Bahn is Jannowitzbrücke and it is open Thursday to Sunday, 1pm to 5pm. More info here

Those attending this year’s Typo Berlin conference will also get to see some choice cuts from the museum’s collection as it will be supplying letters to be used as stage dressing for the event.


Thanks to Anna Chapman-Andrews for the tip

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