Berlin has a rich cache of private art collections to explore, ranging from ancient oriental sculptures to contemporary works. Many can be viewed in the homes of the collectors themselves, with owners throwing open their doors to small groups at select times of the year. Those with white cube fatigue will relish the change of scene, and the chance to view international art in the most intimate – and unusual – of settings.

Here’s our guide to the best private art collections to see in Berlin apartments.

SØR Rusche Collection Oelde/Berlin

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Photography: via Art Berlin

Thomas Rusche – managing director of clothing brand SØR Rusche – acquired his first painting at the tender age of 14. His textile-merchant family has been collecting art for generations, and Rusche lives among their curation of 17th century Old Masters paintings and contemporary works in a Neoclassical building in Charlottenburg. ‘The art you look at when you’re waking up, eating, working, or relaxing, affects the neurological processes in our mind and has a huge impact on your life,’ says Rusche.

Charlottenburg, Berlin. Art tours are held three times a year and can also be viewed by private appointment. Inquire by email [email protected]

Sammlung Hoffman

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Photography: courtesy of Sammlung Hoffman

Housed in a two-storey converted sewing machine factory in the heart of Berlin, Sammlung Hoffmann is one of the most well-known private art collections in the city. Erika Hoffmann and her late husband Rolf Hoffmann have been collecting contemporary art in their 1400 sq m home and workspace for over 40 years. Amidst their treasure trove are pieces by Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Katharina Grosse and Isa Genzken. Erika regularly rearranges the collection, to keep things fresh. ‘A new acquisition may even become a central work, setting the tone or the theme for the next installation,’ she told Flash Art. ‘By combining it with works from storage, I try to create a personal context, to visualise the network in the collection.’

Sophienstraße 21, 10178 Berlin. Open on Saturdays between 11am and 4pm to visitors who register in advance. Inquire by email [email protected]

Peter Heimer residence

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Photography: courtesy of Peter Heimer

Before becoming an art dealer and gallerist, Peter Heimer was an architect. It’s no surprise then he tapped Berlin-based practice Gonzalez Haase to design him a Charlottenburg bolthole that can double as a residence and art showroom.

The architects reconfigured the apartment’s interiors walls and hid domestic details such as cupboards and appliances behind bespoke cabinetry. Pieces by Kirstine Roepstorff can be seen hanging on the walls while furniture by local designers, such as Jerszy Seymour and Katja Buchholz, adorn the rooms. But its crowning glory is a huge neon light sculpture by artist Jeppe Hein which greets visitors as they enter.

Mommsenstraße 58, 10629 Berlin. Open only by appointment. Inquire by email [email protected]

Collection Springmeier

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Photography: courtesy of Collection Springmeier

Giovanni Springmeier’s home in a pre-war building in Berlin’s Kollwitzkiez neighbourhood is brimming with vibrant artworks by a cache of international artists. Away from the city’s usual gallery hotspots, the Springmeier Collection lets viewers get up close and personal with sculptures, photography and paintings by the likes of Phyllida Barlow, Guillaume Leblon, Leidy Churchman and Stefan Ruitenbeek. Each room is arranged to encourage discussion about the themes on display.

Kolmarer Str. 1, 10405 Berlin, Germany. Tours by appointment. Inquire by email [email protected]

Salon Dahlmann

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Photography: courtesy of Timo Miettinen

Having grown up with a mother who collected Finnish landscape paintings, Timo Miettinen developed a taste for art early on. The Finn purchased a building in Berlin a couple of years ago near the swanky Kurfürstendamm boulevard and devoted it to the arts. Built in 1897, the Gründerzeit-era structure was one of a few of in the area to survive the war relatively unscathed, and is named for its previous owner Hildegard Dahlmann.

Miettinen’s private apartment – which is annexed to the main building – is where an edit of the Miettinen Collection is displayed. He and his wife Iiris Ulin have been collecting works by contemporary artists, including the likes of Louise Bourgeois, George Baselitz and Monica Bonvicini, since 2004.

Marburger Straße 3. 10789 Berlin, Germany. Open on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm and by appointment. Inquire by email [email protected]

Collection Regard

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Photography: courtesy of Collection Regard

Housed in an old apartment in Berlin’s Mitte district, Marc Barbey’s Collection Regard focuses on German photography, particularly works by overlooked local artists. These include Hein Gorny, Lotte Jacobi and Toni Schneiders. Though Barbey doesn’t live in the apartment, he chose the cosy setting as an alternative to the classic white cube gallery – an intimate ‘Salon for the like-minded and the curious.’ He adds: ‘I want to create a space for dialogue and deep engagement with photography. A space people feel they’d enjoy returning to – often.’

Steinstraße 12, D-10119 Berlin. During exhibitions, the space is open Fridays between 2pm and 6pm or by appointment. Registration via email is required [email protected]

Read next: 8 of Berlin’s most unusual art spaces

See our Berlin city guide.

Charmaine Li is an arts and technology writer based in Berlin.

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