Berlin's Urban Nation museum hails graffiti as art form

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe inaugural exhibition displays work by more than 100 of the world's best known street artists

Many cities around the world view graffiti as nothing less than vandalism - a form of pollution that must be removed from the streets.

But a new gallery in the German capital is celebrating it as an art form.

The Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art is opening in Berlin, a city famous for its street art.

The showcase, featuring the works of 150 international and local artists, is being described as the first of its kind in the world.

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image captionArtist David de la Mano has painted a residential house near Urban Nation
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe museum is said to be the first dedicated to street art in the world
image copyrightReuters
image captionCurators of the museum say the best place for this kind of art is still the street
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe exhibition is located in a converted apartment building with an asphalt floor and an open structure to give viewers the impression they are in a street

"Urban contemporary art is the logical next step to follow what is happening on the street," museum Director Yasha Young told Reuters.

"This house can be an archive that tells the story [of street art] for the first time, from the beginning until now," she said.

Many of the artworks featured in the museum have been exhibited on the facade and surrounding streets ahead of the formal launch of the inaugural display.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe German capital is famous - or notorious - for its graffiti
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe exhibition aims to give street artists greater recognition
image copyrightReuters
image captionBerlin already has a famous graffiti exhibition on what remains of the Berlin wall

It is illegal to daub graffiti on Berlin's buildings without the permission of the owner.

But the city has also introduced measures to help street artists carry out their art legally.

British artist Louis Masai, whose work is exhibited in the new museum, welcomed Saturday's opening.

"It means that the artists who have been a part of this scene and movement for a long time are now getting the respect that they deserve," he said.

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