Die Crime Partner (CCCP), CanTwo und Jase, 1988 vor ihren Pieces bei Pein & Pein in Halstenbek. Foto: Fedor Wildhardt, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

A CITY BECOMES COLOURFUL Hamburg Graffiti History 1980-1999

from 2 November 2022 to 31 July 2023

At the beginning of the 1980s, Hamburg’s urban landscape gradually began to change. The instigators of this transformation were not urban planners, however, but graffiti artists: inspired by films like Wild Style and Beat Street, they moved around the city at night with spray cans and left behind colourful pictures, symbols and writing on walls, bridges and train carriages. Over the course of time, Hamburg – which had been a grey city dominated by postwar architecture – was transformed into a colourful and diverse metropolis which soon became one of the European epicentres of the graffiti and hip-hop scene, alongside Paris, Amsterdam and Munich.

The exhibition “A CITY BECOMES COLOURFUL. Hamburg Graffiti History 1980-1999”, which will run from 2 November 2022 until 31 July 2023 at the Hamburg Museum, tells the story of the origins of this youth subculture in Hamburg. The curators Oliver Nebel, Frank Petering, Mirko Reisser and Andreas Timm have assembled almost 500 exhibits, including photographs, texts, sketchbooks, spray cans, newspapers, magazines, vinyl records and accessories. In their research, they were able to build on their previous collaborative work: they are the editors of the lavishly illustrated book A City Becomes Colourful (published in 2021), from which the exhibition gets its name.

The multimedia smartphone app “OUR CITY BECOMES COLOURFUL” has been developed to accompany the exhibition. It enables visitors to follow in the footsteps of the subculture as they explore the city. 

Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte

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Opening Hours

Monday 10am - 5pm
Tuesday closed
Wednesday 10am - 5pm
Thursday 10am - 9pm
(free entry from 5pm)
Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 6pm

King Zack posiert neben seinem Zack-Piece, gesprüht direkt am Jungfernstieg, 1987. Foto: Sali Landricina, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

King Zack poses next to his Zack Piece, sprayed right on Jungfernstieg, 1987. Photo: Sali Landricina, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

Die Graffiti-Writer Master Pit, Shane und Rest (†) aus Steilshoop 1988 beim Überqueren der S-Bahngleise an der „Rübenkamp-Brücke“. Im Hintergrund das legendäre

The graffiti writers Master Pit, Shane and Rest (†) from Steilshoop in 1988 crossing the S-Bahn tracks at the "Rübenkamp Bridge". In the background, the legendary "Funk Music" piece sprayed by Eric (†) in 1987. Photo: André Lützen, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

Der Writer Cisco sprüht 1987 ein Cisco Window-Down-Panel an einer S-Bahn im Yard Bergedorf. Foto: Michael Timm, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

Writer Cisco sprays a Cisco window-down panel on a commuter train at Bergedorf Yard in 1987. Photo: Michael Timm, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

Platsch von der TFZ-Crew, gesprüht um 1985 auf dem Roof-Top zwischen der S-Bahnlinie Holstenstraße Richtung Sternschanze. Foto © Sali Landricina, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

Splash by the TFZ crew, sprayed around 1985 on the roof-top between the Holstenstraße S-Bahn line and Sternschanze. Photo: Sali Landricina, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT

The Exhibition Catalog


The opening will be accompanied by a catalog of the exhibition's photographs, objects, and text, available for purchase in the museum store, bookstores, and online.


144 pages
ISBN 978-3-9824951-0-1
19,80 Euro

The Book


The exhibition is based on a book which was published at the end of 2021 following over six years of research and writing, and which comprehensively documents the emergence of Hamburg’s graffiti scene. Through text and pictures, the 560-page volume illustrates in detail how a graffiti scene developed in the Hanseatic city from the early 1980s onwards. Over 1,300 photos show graffiti pioneers and their works. The text features accounts from contemporary witnesses and sheds light on the social and cultural conditions that contributed to the emergence of the subculture in Hamburg.


The App for the exhibition

The digital project UNSERE STADT WIRD BUNT uses an APP, an interactive city map, and an AR tool to offer free digital services for the EINE STADT WIRD BUNT exhibition at the Museum for Hamburg History.

The exhibition shows a unique insight into one of the most exciting chapters of recent cultural history. It illuminates the "Hamburg Graffiti History" from 1980 to 1999; the transformation from a gray and barren Hamburg characterized by post-war architecture to a colorful, vibrant city that was one of the European epicenters of the graffiti and hip-hop scene. Hamburg played a central role in the spread of hip-hop's youth culture, particularly the art form of graffiti in Germany.

The accompanying digital services provide a location-based look into the past and thus extend the exhibition into the space in which graffiti is at home: the city.



Download the exhibition app from the Google Playstore and App Store. With the app, you can:

  • Get an overview of the distribution and brief info about the 55 Spots on the map
  • Explore each Spot in AR mode, see photos from back then, and read more in-depth info
  • Design your own styles, lettering, and sketches and share them on Instagram




Digital 360° Tour

Explore our new exhibition "EINE STADT WIRD BUNT. Hamburg Graffiti History 1980-1999". Immerse yourself in our new online exhibition and enjoy a piece of Hamburg graffiti history digitally.

Supported by



The app was developed as part of

In cooperation with



Picture: Die Crime Partner (CCCP), CanTwo und Jase, 1988 in front of their work at Pein & Pein in Halstenbek, Photo: Fedor Wildhardt, EINE STADT WIRD BUNT