Murals in Hamburg at Frauen Freiluft Galerie

There are a couple of reasons why I picked Hamburg as my home-base and the harbour is definitely one of them. Being able to step out of the subway, overlooking the cranes, the water and even a beach is pretty special for a European city.

"Working Women in the Harbours of New York City and Hamburg - a Bridging Project" by Janet Braun-Reinitz and Hildegund Schuster, Assisted by Ayse Kazci, 2013

Apart from being pretty, the harbour has been the economic centre of the city for many years.

One street in Altona emphazises its importance for the city using Street Art: At große Elbstraße and Neumühlen, there are 15 murals in different sizes, explaining the economic power generated by women in Hamburg's harbour since 1900. The aim was to counteract with the assumption that harbours are usually run by men.


The project has started in 1994 with now 15 murals on different architecturally interesting buildings and walls.

The murals were designed by female artists from Hamburg and all over the world.

Over a distance of 2km, between Fischmarkt and Oevelgoenne, you will find illustrated scenes of women working around the harbour, on boats, selling fish and even as prostitutes.

Although created by different artists, the pieces all show a similar colourful style and all include words emphasizing the topic shown in the paintings.


What is special about this street is, that here Street Art was curated as an exhibition, with different artists working together to create one giant piece of art.

I've attached a map at the end of this post to make sure you guys don't get lost.

"Frauen ans Ruder" by Cecilia Herrero, 2000

I started in Oevelgoenne, right at the beach and one of my favourite spots in Hamburg.

(To start this day in a fun way: You can go to Oevelgoenne by boat)

There you'll find a rather small work of art on the side of a building.

It was created in 2000 by Cecilia Herrero from Argentina and shows a woman on the steering wheel of a boat, emphasizing the lack of women working in this kind of job (apparantly having a woman on board was seen as bad luck for quite a while).


This piece is the only one painted on canvas, for the simple reason that finding a wall to put it on was difficult during the time the artist was in Hamburg.


The next painting, right across from the first one shows several women in traditional workwear for different jobs on a boat. On the wall towards the side, less visible, there are quotes about the difficulties these women have at work, about being taken less seriously and having less support in their field.

"Frauen zur See - Seefrauen einst und jetzt" by Barbara Kathrin Möbius, Hildegund Schuster, 2011

You can't miss this next mural, as it covers a 400sqm wall at the beginning of the fish market. Designed and painted by Cecilia Herrero and Hildegund Schuster, it shows different scenes from the work environment around the fish industry.

Red lines highlight the workers in the otherwise black and white paintings.

"Frauen in Fischindustrie und am Fischmarkt" by Hildegund Schuster, Cecilia Herrero, 2015. Curated by Elisabeth von Dücker

The next mural covers the stairs to a restaurant and shows the job of a cleaning lady. The cleaning supplies and garbage bags are colourful and appear to step out of the wall.

"Wisch und Weg - die Putzfrauen" by Hildegund Schuster, 1997

"Prostituierte" by Cecilia Herrero, 1995

Right next to this painting, you will find another one by Cecilia Herrero, illustrating a prostitute leaning against a wall. Since Hamburg's red-light-district is adjacent to the harbour, this is a picture seen often in this area and obviously plays with the cliches associated with a harbour. The stripe of words, that all murals have in common mixes German and Spanish words, maybe the artist wanted this one to feel more personal than the others.


In the same backyard, there is a painting about a famous strike in 1896, when the female workers sorting coffee beans stood up against the circumstances in their work life. The stripe of words lists several problems the workers had to deal with and that caused the strike.

"Der Streik der Kaffeeausleserinnen" by Hildegund Schuster, 1995

My favourite painting of this series is located on the wall across and also illustrates female resistance. The area around the harbour has been very attractive for investors for many years now and new development plans have caused protests again and again.

"Demonstrantinnen" by Cecilia Herrero and Hildegund Schuster, 1996

The newest painting connects the workers in Hamburg's harbour with the ones in New York. Janet Braun-Reinitz from New York and Hildegund Schuster and Elisabeth von Dücker from Hamburg designed the two paintings facing each other together. They illustrate the change, that has happened in the industry and the success many women now have in the field.


By not only talking about the harbour in Hamburg any more, this piece of art connects the Frauen Freiluftgalerie with workers in harbours all over the world, starting a much wider discussion.

"Working Women in the Harbours of New York City and Hamburg - a Bridging Project" by Janet Braun-Reinitz and Hildegund Schuster, Assisted by Ayse Kazci, 2013

While I think that there are murals in Hamburg, that are technically better done, I love that the art in this street was curated to tell one story, while each piece still works seen by itself.

If you're lucky enough to stay in Hamburg on a sunny day, this area makes for a great walk along the water.


There were a few more paintings that were destroyed and a few more that I simply didn't find. If you discover them, please let me know in the comments!

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between Oevelgoenne and Fischauktionshalle


How to get there:

Take the 62 boat to Oevelgoenne


How much: 



I found most of the information about the Frauenfreiluftgalerie and the paintings at their website

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