Germany is known for making the best even of its darkest days. History-wise Munich’s Golden bar, located in Haus der Kunst, was built in 1937, prior to the darkest years of the recent European history. Back then Haus der Kunst was known as the “House of German Art” (“Haus der Deutschen Kunst”), it was the first monumental representational building of National Socialist cultural policy. The National Socialist party vanished clawing a deep dark hole in German history, but Golden Bar transcended its past.
It was shining in 1930s and shines today due to the beautiful wall decorations – the murals in Golden Bar were painted by Karlheinz Dallinger on gold leaf, they depict maps and history of rum, cigars, tobacco, champagne, whiskey, and wine. The illustrations are rather symbolic so don’t look for any political reasoning behind the British map lacking Wales, or Italian map lacking Venice! No politics in Golden bar! Even back in 1930s the decoration elegantly disguised the racist core of the National Socialists' cultural program.
After the war the prevailing desire was to downplay the building's monumentality, so rooms were made smaller, marvelous red marble on the columns was hidden under coats of white paint and plywood panels were mounted over the murals, but in the new century Golden bar got a fresh start. In 2003 Haus der Kunst artistic director Chris Dercon started an open discussion on the building's past – the murals were exposed and columns ware restored. Current director Okwui Enwezor continued the discourse on the history in the field of tension between contingency and reflexivity.
Today Golden Bar mixes past and present in furniture and in the menu – 1920s chandelier from Zurich’s Savoy Hotel goes surprisingly well with 1960s furniture and ultramodern counter; popular 1930s drink Blood & Sand is revived with a molecular change that creates a novel drinking experience.
In the evening it becomes quite a place to see and bee seen, not too posh, yet smart venue with delicious craft cocktails. The bar is a great venue not only at night, when you have to book a table and be prepared for a rather loud music. It is just as well the place to have a morning croissant or fulfilling lunch for a fair price (not at all cheap, but fair for a historical place, you can always check the prices on the bar’s website).
The murals in Golden Bar were painted by Karlheinz Dallinger on gold leaf, they depict maps and history of rum, cigars, tobacco, champagne, whiskey, and wine.
You might hear that it is hard to find, but since we, museum-lovers, navigate cities orientating on art spaces, it'll be hard to miss Golden Bar right by Haus der Kunst. You can also access it from the English Garden and in summer it will be even easier to spot, since you will see a very large terrace outside. There you can TASTE the menu and observe river surfers as they champion the extraordinary standing wave that attracts so many visitors. In the end Munich is not only a great historical city, but also a place where you can surf right in the city center. Past and modern, antique recipes with a twist, contemporary art in historical places – a perfect mix at Haus der Kunst!