After a lengthy reconstruction by architect Josef Paul Kleihues, the Hamburger Bahnhof reopened on 2 November 1996 as the "Museum für Gegenwart" (Museum for Contemporary Art). The building was erected in the mid-19th century as one of the first terminal stations of the rail system. In the early 20th century, the structure was converted into a museum of transport and construction. The station's architecture, its impressive Neoclassical façade, flanked by two towers, the grand industrial hall of the entrance area, and the wings of the cours d'honneur flanking the garden of the inner courtyard: all of these elements constitute special attractions for visitors to Berlin. Only the east wing, the so-called Kleihues Hall, was reconstructed in the style of a high vaulted grand gallery on the occasion of the 1996 reopening.
Impressive from without by virtue of the façade's lucid historicist style, the building is rendered even more striking by an ingenious dichromatic installation, designed by American artist Dan Flavin, which bathes both the main façade loggia and the transitions leading to the wings of the cours d'honneur in blue and green neon light. Particularly at night, Flavin's last work (whose completion he unfortunately did not live to see) is visible from afar, and has come to be seen as the museum's trademark.