LOCATED JUST AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE FORMER EAST-WEST DIVIDE, UNDER THE U-BAHN LINE, THE RAMONES MUSEUM & BAR NOW APTLY FINDS ITSELF IN THE PREDOMINANT AREA FOR GIGS IN BERLIN.
With a CBGB-like awning decked out over the street, the Ramones Museum & Bar brings a bit of New York style to the streets of Berlin. You might be thinking: why is the world’s only museum dedicated to the legendary American punk rockers in Berlin? Well, not only was Berlin once home to bass player and singer-songwriter Dee Dee Ramone (and hence the source of all the German references in their lyrics, from “Blitzkrieg Bop”, to “It’s a Long Way Back”, “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg”, et al), it is also where the owner of the world’s largest accumulation of Ramones paraphernalia started his collection.
Florian Hayler’s personal treasure trove of everything Ramones related now resides near the Oberbaum Bridge in Kreuzberg. After his collection started to take over his apartment, Hayler’s girlfriend gave him an ultimatum: it was either her or the Ramones. Looking to save his relationship, Hayler started the Ramones Museum, moving his stuff out and making the collection public with help from graphic designer and “fifth Ramone” Arturo Vega.
Having amassed more collectables – from global merchandising to posters, T-shirts, guitar picks, handwritten letters and live videos – Hayler finally moved the museum to its current location, adding to it a very Berlin-like café and bar. "The new space is more how I envisioned the museum from the beginning; a run-down bar with holes in the wooden floors and faded paint in between brick walls," says Hayler about the project. Decked out in standard Berlin fashion, with vintage furniture and a wall signed by the touring rock talent who have frequented the establishment, the bar/café serves mainly vegan food, alongside coffee and local beers, and a mean selection of cakes. "All my employees play in local bands and most of my friends work in the music or entertainment industry," Hayler adds. There's also a little area for performances, and on the odd occasion you might catch in-store acoustic showcases from touring acts. Bands who have played there recently include The Gaslight Anthem, The Duke Spirit, and Alkaline Trio, who inaugurated the museum’s opening.
The fee for the museum is a one-time payment of 5 Euros, which includes a classic Ramones badge that will get you in for free on all your future visits. There's also a souvenir and merchandise store that offers trademark Ramones T-shirts, sweaters, books, records, and a whole lot more. Today, Hayler’s collection and emporium is a reflection of the punk history of Kreuzberg, where bands and musicians would play riot through the neighbourhood. It's a tribute to the classic-leaning punk community that epitomises one of the golden eras in Berlin’s musical lineage – and, as a plus, it has some of the best cakes you'll find in the area.