Founded in 1865 as Eisenwerk Nagel & Kaemp.

1875 to 1968 Production of large machinery; initially rice mills, then mainly loading gear and cranes. Even today, Kampnagel cranes can be found in ports on all continents.

Site of the novel "Maschinenfabrik N&K" by Willi Bredel, which tells the story of the failed workers' uprising against the Weimar Republic in 1923.

From 1939 armaments factory

From 1945, resumption of civilian production of loading equipment for ships and ports

1968: As a result of the triumphant advance of container technology, demand for traditional Kampnagel products collapses.

The plant is sold to the Demag Group and until 1981 forklifts are produced on the site.

A black and white fotograph of the fabric Nagel Kamp from inside.
Ironwork Nagel & Kamp
© Kampnagel


In 1981, the factory era at Kampnagel ends with the shutdown of the production facilities. The Senate and the district plan to demolish the halls and build housing; demolition is initially suspended:

From 1982, DAS DEUTSCHE SCHAUSPIELHAUS uses part of the buildings during the renovation of the main building on Kirchenallee as alternative quarters for the entire operations of the artistic director's office, administration, workshops, rehearsal stages and performance venues.

From October 5 to 10, 1982, the first FESTIVAL BESETZUNGSPROBEN was held on the premises by Hamburg's independent theater groups, who saw this as an ideal production and performance venue for their work.

A black and white photo of a meeting in one the halls of Kampnagel.
© Kampnagel

1983: Gastspiel Peter Brook: "Carmen" und Festival "Besetzungsprobe 2. Bild": Forderung an den Senat, Kampnagel den freien Gruppen zur Dauernutzung zur Verfügung zu stellen

1984: Rückkehr des Deutschen Schauspielhauses an die Kirchenallee; erstes SOMMERTHEATER-FESTIVAL der Freien Gruppen. Der Senat beschließt die Aussetzung des Abrißbeschlusses/den Erhalt der Hallen 1 bis 6, "solange sie vom Publikum angenommen werden".

1985: Ab März kontinuierlicher Spielbetrieb auf KAMPNAGEL unter der künstlerischen Leitung von Hannah Hurtzig und Mücke Quinckardt. Im Juli/August: regelmäßiges INTERNATIONALES SOMMERTHEATER-FESTIVAL unter der Leitung von Dieter Jaenicke. Trägerin des Geländes ist zunächst die Hamburger Kulturbehörde. ZEIT-Artikel von 1988

1986: Erstes Frauenfestival HAMMONIALE unter Leitung von Irmgard Schleier auf dem Gelände; das Festival findet seither in zweijährigem Turnus in der Trägerschaft eines Vereins statt; die künstlerische Leitung haben seit 1995 Isabella Vertes-Schütter und Irmgard Schleier.

Black and white photo "No deportation on Kampnagel. Finally permanent positions! The Senate is challenged." is written on a white sign on the Kampnagel grounds
© Friedemann Simon
On the black and white photo you can see a sign with the inscription "Kulturfabrik Kampnagel". Below a banner with the inscription: "War is not a solution".
Kampnagel Kulturfabrik
© Friedemann Simon

1987: INTERNATIONAL DANCE THEATRE FESTIVAL, organized by the Hamburg State Opera; subsequently, the State Opera regularly performs in the hall [k6] with works by Robert Wilson, John Neumeier and others.

1987: Opening of the GALERIE [kx] in the administration building; the gallery is run by a self-governing association and regularly shows exhibitions, installations and performances by contemporary and international artists.

1987: Opening of the exhibition space [k3] with "New Art in Hamburg", curated by the director of the Kunstverein, Karl-Egon Vester.

1990: Appointment of a supporting association for Kampnagel. New management: Hans Man in't Veld and Wolfram Kremer, responsible for the program of regular performances in the halls.

1991: Under the name JUNGENDTHEATER FÜR HAMBURG AUF KAMPNAGEL (JAK), Jürgen Zielinski launches a project to create an independent youth theater in Hamburg.

1992: Change in the commercial management: Jack F. Kurfess, previously administrative director of "Die Werkstatt Tanzhaus NRW", becomes commercial director of Kampnagel.

February 1993: Conversion of the sponsoring association into a limited liability company with the task of performing in the halls with a program of in-house and co-productions and guest performances. Hans Man in't Veld and Jack F. Kurfess are appointed managing directors of the GmbH. The chairwoman of the supervisory board is the Senator for Culture, Dr. Christina Weiss.

October 1993: The ALABAMA cinema moves onto the site; under the management of Doris Bandhold and Michael Konrad, a sophisticated film art cinema is created for the district.

June 1994: Jürgen Zielinski declares the JAK project a failure.

August 1994: Change of artistic direction to the former director of the Zürcher Theaterspektakel, Res Bosshart; commercial director remains Jack F. Kurfess.

February 1997: Sale of the land bordering Barmbeker Strasse by the Senate; part of the proceeds of the sale is earmarked for extensive renovation and conversion work on the theater halls.

1998: With the demolition of the Fundushalle on the canal and the construction of new residential and commercial buildings, the so-called "peripheral development", the former Kampnagel factory site acquires its present structure. For art, the core (halls 1-6) remains.

May 2, 1998 to November 3, 1998: Reconstruction and renovation of the halls.

November 4, 1998: Ceremonial reopening of Kampnagel and start of the 1998/99 season with the Japanese stage performance Dumb Type.

December 1998: The cultural authorities of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg decide on a structural reform at Kampnagel: from the 2001/2002 season, Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik GmbH will not only be responsible for the annual operation, but will also organize a theater festival in the summer, replacing the previously independent "International Summer Theater Festival Hamburg".

June 1999: HAMMONIALE, the festival of women, takes place for the last time in Hamburg at Kampnagel.

1999: It turns out that the Alabama Kino, closed during the reconstruction phase, cannot be reopened for the time being.

October 1999: The supervisory board appoints Gordana Vnuk, founder and director of the EUROKAZ festival (Zagreb) and former director of the Theatre at the Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff), as Kampnagel's new artistic director from the 2001/2002 season.

August 2000: Change in the commercial management: Tessa Beecken, former chief scheduler and deputy to the artistic director of Theater Aachen, succeeds Jack F. Kurfess. Res Bosshart remains Artistic Director until 2001.

August/September 2001: Gordana Vnuk introduces herself to the public for the first time with the new Kampnagel summer festival LAOKOON. In 2002, the Japanese theater expert Hidenaga Otori takes over the artistic direction of the festival for three years.

September 2001: Kampnagel's existence is secured for the long term by signing a 15-year lease with Sprinkenhof AG.

October 5, 2001: Gordana Vnuk opens her first season with a spectacular European premiere - the Japanese group ISHINHA presents the Jan-Jan opera "Ryusei".

November 2001: The Alabama Cinema reopens.

December 2001: The new building of the restaurant "Casino" is completed and inaugurated according to the designs of the architect Godber v. Bernstorff and in the decor of Atelier Centrale.

2003: The gallery [kx] leaves the Kampnagel site and moves into new premises in City Nord.

2003: The Cultural Authority extends Gordana Vnuk's contract until 2007.

2005: The Colombian dancer and choreographer Alvaro Restrepo takes over as artistic director of the summer festival LAOKOON.

2006: The supervisory board appoints the former director of Sophiensaele (Berlin) Amelie Deuflhard as the new artistic director of Kampnagel from the 2007/2008 season.Matthias von Hartz will curate the summer festival from 2008.

2006: Gordana Vnuk curates her last summer festival again, as well as her first, and thus concludes the cycle of LAOKOON festivals. With a record attendance of over 15,000 guests. Evening paper article 26.05.2007

September 28, 2007: Amelie Deuflhard opens her first season at Kampnagel with a sprawling ORGANIZATION OF OCCUPATIONS. From Alvis Hermanis' "Sonja" to Gutierrez' "Retrospective Exhibitionist" to the orchestra karaoke and the concert by Decemberists, many different events occupy the entire area and attract over 3000 visitors to Kampnagel.

October 18-20, 2007: In a three-day happening accompanied by the fictional choreographer Veronika Blumstein, Kampnagel K3 - Zentrum für Choreographie / Tanzplan Hamburg opens a project within the framework of Tanzplan Deutschland, which aims to strengthen contemporary dance in Hamburg.

December 2007: Kampnagel's lease with Sprinkenhof AG is extended until 2030.

Opening International Summer Festival 2008

August 13-30, 2008 The INTERNATIONAL SUMMER FESTIVAL HAMBURG 2008 under the new direction of Matthias von Hartz is immediately successful with a record of almost 19,000 visitors. In addition to the world premieres of the dance and theater program, there is for the first time a rich music program as well as a thematic focus and expert lectures.

A photo from above looking at a small stage and a crowd of people, outside on the Kampnagel grounds.
Eröffnung Internationales Sommerfestival 2008
© Kampnagel

May 7-23, 2009 Kampnagel dance dramaturges Jochen Roller and Anne Kersting curate the first edition of the new LIVE ART FESTIVAL, which will take place at Kampnagel for the next five years in association with seven European partners.

June 6-20, 2009 Eva Maria Stüting curates YOUNGSTAR FEST, the first festival of arts by young people for young people. International, professional artists develop and present productions together with Hamburg students.

August 13-30, 2009 New record at the INTERNATIONAL SUMMER FESTIVAL HAMBURG. 20,500 guests visit Kampnagel.

Sept. 20-26, 2009 Kampnagel hosts SCHULTHEATER DER LÄNDER, Europe's largest school theater festival. Student productions from all German states have been selected. 350 students, 230 teachers are participating in the 25th anniversary.

October 1, 2009 Jörn Sturm becomes Kampnagel's new commercial director. Tessa Beecken, Kampnagel's commercial director since 2000, becomes operations director of Elbphilharmonie und Laeiszhalle Service GmbH.

November 05 - 08, 2009 The DANCE CONGRESS 2009 at Kampnagel, organized by Katharina von Wilcke and Sabine Gehm, generates an overwhelming response. More than 3000 dance professionals and people interested in dance take part in the four-day congress.

June 2010 Kampnagel is the pulsating center for the fine arts in Hamburg: Director Amelie Deuflhard and her team can report a record attendance of 143,000 visitors at the end of SPIELZEIT 2009/10.

August 12-28, 2010 With co-productions by Nature Theater of Oklaohma and Philippe Quesne, as well as a wide range of dance, theater, art and theoretical events, the INTERNATIONAL SUMMER FESTIVAL HAMBURG also set a new audience record in 2010 with over 28,000 visitors.

December 14, 2010 Amelie Deuflhard extends her contract as artistic director of Kampnagel until 2017. Amelie Deuflhard has "significantly strengthened Kampnagel as an internationally important site for the performing arts," says Reinhard Stuth, Senator for Culture and Media.

February 15, 2011 Two Kampnagel productions are invited to the 2011 Theatertreffen: "Via Intolleranza II" by Christoph Schlingensief and "Testament" by She She Pop.

2012 Matthias von Hartz directs his last International Summer Festival in Hamburg and becomes curator for the festival FOREIGN AFFAIRS in Berlin. New artistic director as of 2013 is Andras Siebold, chief dramaturge at Kampnagel since 2007.

2013 The first summer festival under the direction of Andras Siebold records another attendance record with 30,000 visitors.

28.3.-2.3.2014 Kampnagel is the venue and organizer of the 11th Dance Platform Germany. The jury - consisting of Sophie Becker, Bettina Masuch and Amelie Deuflhard (together with dramaturges Caroline Spellenberg and Melanie Zimmermann) - will select the 12 most interesting dance productions from Germany. On show will be THE FORSYTHE COMPANY, Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods, Richard Siegal, Sebastian Matthias, Isabelle Schad and Laurent Goldring, Swoosh Lieu, Laurent Chétouane, Zufit Simon, VA Wölfl / Neuer Tanz, Raimund Hoghe, Antonia Baehr and Tino Sehgal.

A photo with a speaker in the foreground and audience members in the background.
Opening Tanzplattform Germany 2014: Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture and Media
© Anja Beutler

December 2014 EcoFAVELA Lampedusa Nord, a temporary action space for refugees from the Hamburg Lampedusa Group, opens on Kampnagel and is initially used by the group as a living and working space for 5 months. The project was initiated by the Hamburg artist collective Baltic Raw Org. Immediately after the opening, Hamburg AfD politicians charged Amelie Deuflhard with "aiding and abetting the violation of the right of residence for foreigners". The case was dropped in 2016. In the volume edited by Jörg Friedrich et al. "Refugees Welcome. Konzepte für eine menschenwürdige Architektur," published in 2015 by JOVIS Verlag, Amelie Deuflhard published an article about the project.

November 2015 Federal government funds new alliance of 7 international production houses for contemporary performing arts in Germany with 12 million euros initially for three years. The alliance consists of Kampnagel Hamburg, Forum Freies Theater (Düsseldorf), HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Hellerau - Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main, PACT Zollverein (Essen) and tanzhaus nrw, thus uniting the most important and largest production centers of the independent dance, theater and performance scene in Germany.

February 2016 Amelie Deuflhard is awarded Golden Lot for civic engagement. She receives the award from the Association of German Surveyors for her outstanding civic and artistic commitment.

April 2016 Peacetanbul operator Ergün Yagbasan takes over gastronomy at Kampnagel.

July 2016 Kampnagel artistic director Amelie Deuflhard extends contract until 2022

May 2017 The festival Theater der Welt takes place from May 25 to June 11 in Hamburg jointly organized by Kampnagel and Thalia Theater. The program has been curated by Amelie Deuflhard and András Siebold together with Joachim Lux and Sandra Küpper from Thalia Theater. With its 15th edition, the festival of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) thus returned to the place of its origin and, founded in 1979 by Ivan Nagel as "Theater of Nations," took place in Hamburg for the third time after a second edition in 1989. In addition to the festival center at Baakenhafen, various venues in the city as well as Kampnagel and the Thalia Theater were visited. A total of 47,000 guests attended the festival's 330 events.

November 2017 Kampnagel is nominated alongside Guggenheim Bilbao for the "European Cultural Brand of the Year 2017" award.

July 2018 Sabine Stenzel becomes commercial director at Kampnagel.

April 2018 Migrantpolitan at Kampnagel honored with Culture Award of the Hamburg-Nord District Assembly. The District Assembly's Culture Award annually recognizes a project that has had a decisive impact on the district's cultural offerings in the past year and has contributed to cultural life in a special way.

September 2018 Kampnagel receives 2nd prize of the Senator Neumann Award, which is awarded every five years to outstanding inclusive projects based on the decision of a jury. Since summer 2018 Kampnagel is also partner of the European cooperation project Europe Beyond Access, which works for four years to address and break down barriers for artists, staff and audience.

October 2018 Migrantpolitan at Kampnagel is one of four projects Germany-wide 2018 to be honored by The Power of The Arts initiative. The selected projects, "which are committed to an open society and a "new us" by means of culture," will each receive 50,000 euros in prize money.

November 2018 Amelie Deuflhard receives award European Cultural Manager 2018 at the European Cultural Brand Award on November 12, 2018 at Radialsystem in Berlin. Kampnagel is one of the 114 cultural institutions that are the first signatories of the Hamburg network DIE VIELEN für die Freiheit der Kunst. It is part of a nationwide campaign of cultural institutions and cultural workers who speak out and work together for an open, diverse society and against racism, exclusion and the influence of right-wing populists.

January 2019 Three Kampnagel co-productions are invited to the Theatertreffen 2019: UNENDLICHER SPASS by Thorsten Lensing (March 2018), GIRL FROM THE FOG MACHINE FACTORY by Thom Luz (German premiere International Summer Festival 2018) and She She Pop's ORATORIUM (February 2019).

May 2019 Kampnagel receives the 1st prize of the Rudolf Stilcken Cultural Communication Award 2019 for "particularly innovative content-related work and its convincing communication".

November 2019 The federal government provides 60 million euros for a general renovation and comprehensive modernization of Kampnagel. This sum was approved by the Budget Committee of the Bundestag in its meeting on Nov. 14, 2019.

March 2020 The Corona virus is spreading worldwide, so to protect against it, measures are quickly taken to shut down public life to prevent its spread as much as possible. Theaters must shut down operations to the public. Anas Aboura & Team's REVOLUTIONARY SOUQ opens on March 12 and is forced to close the very next day. A rapid digitalization push sets in at work and in the arts.

The Kampnagel production DIS-SYLPHIDE by Saša Asentić and the K3 I Tanzplan Hamburg production ATARA - FOR YOU, WHO HAS NOT FOUND YET THE ONE by Reut Shemesh have been invited to the Tanzplattform 2020 in Munich.

May 2020 The Hamburg Cultural Foundation transfers the shareholder shares of Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik GmbH to the City of Hamburg, which thus becomes Kampnagel's sole shareholder and makes Kampnagel a state theater. The Hamburg Cultural Foundation was formally Kampnagel's sole shareholder. Since the founding of Kampnagel GmbH, however, there has been an interconnection with the Ministry of Culture and Media in terms of content, professional policy and finances. The authority provides the operating subsidy and is in charge of the technical and political support. In addition, the halls were recently included in the tenant-lessor model with Sprinkenhof GmbH as cultural properties.

June 2020 Following the lockdown that has been in place since March 2020, outdoor events of very limited capacity are once again possible. The LIVE ART FESTIVAL will therefore take place in public and private spaces under the title #ZIVILERGEHORSAM with pandemic-ready projects by the geheimagentur, God's Entertainment and Gintersdorfer/Klaßen.

August 2020 In the summer of 2020, cultural institutions are allowed to reopen to the public after the first comprehensive lockdown with hygiene concepts and limited capacity. The 2020 International Summer Festival takes place under strict Corona conditions and expands the Festival Garden to include several open-air stages in addition to the halls.

September 2020 The 2020/21 season begins under Corona conditions and makes the pandemic the theme at the Market for Useful Knowledge & Non-Knowledge, License No. 7 / Mobile Academy Berlin. Under the title: Corona times - about conditions, strategies and bodies in crisis, 74 experts from theory, science and practice (from virologists, to lawyers, historians, nurses, students, actors, sociologists and criminologists) shared their knowledge, stories and experiences in 1:1 conversations with the audience on two evenings.

November 2020 Due to the Corona pandemic, the theaters must again close to the public indefinitely. Rehearsals will continue in some cases and some productions will premiere via live stream.

Funding program Neustart Kultur of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media is launched and enables extensive funding of residencies for artists, which are awarded in several phases with the Fonds Darstellende Künste and the Alliance of International Production Houses.

December 2020 Kampnagel participates with the Alliance of International Production Houses in the "Initiative GG 5.3 Weltoffenheit" (Initiative GG 5.3 World Openness), with which various institutions and personalities have published a plea for a common fight against anti-Semitism, racism, right-wing extremism and any form of violent religious fundamentalism.

February 2021 Launch of the [k] to go app in the program of FOKUS TANZ #7. Due to the Corona pandemic, theaters are closed and walks have become the most popular pastime. The app turns the smartphone into a stage during an individual walk around the Kampnagel grounds, where performances are activated on the screen at marked locations.

June 2021 The third edition of Claiming Common Spaces, a joint program series initiated in 2018 by the alliance of international production houses, will take place in 2021 as part of the LIVE ART FESTIVALS: WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREZONE at Kampnagel. Under pandemic conditions, the LIVE ART FESTIVAL took place outdoors on the Kampnagel grounds with, among other things, an art park and a walk with the [k] to go app. For Claiming Common Spaces III, the publication CORONA ICONICS is created with photos sent in after an Open Call.

July 2021 HEAVEN OVER HAMBURG: In a cooperation between Kampnagel and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Dresden Symphony Orchestra will play an open-air music on the roofs of the Lenzsiedlung in Eimsbüttel/Stellingen to kick off the Hamburg Summer of Culture 2021. The audience will experience the unusual concert from the balconies of their apartments and from seats on the lawn of the adjacent Tiefenstaaken sports field.

August 2021 Amelie Deuflhard has extended her contract as artistic director at Kampnagel by a further five years until 2027. The supervisory board unanimously approved the extension, and Dr. Carsten Brosda, Hamburg's Senator for Culture and Media, in his statement paid particular tribute to her commitment to the independent arts and the international appeal Kampnagel has achieved under Amelie Deuflhard's leadership.

October 2021 Kampnagel participates in the nationwide theater project Kein Schlussstrich! (No End Line!), which has addressed the deeds and background of the NSU complex in various artistic programs and brought the perspectives of the victims' families and (post-)migrant communities into the public focus. The project was realized by a cooperation network of theaters and institutions in 15 cities, which founded the Licht ins Dunkel e.V. (Light into Darkness) as a supporting association, on whose board Kampnagel artistic director Amelie Deuflhard is also involved.

December 2021 For the first time, people can be vaccinated against the Corona virus at Kampnagel.

Group picture
© Markus Scholz

May 2022 Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth visits Kampnagel and, together with Hamburg's Senator for Culture Carsten Brosda and Amelie Deuflhard, announces that the 2021 Pritzker Prize-winning Parisian architectural firm Lacaton & Vassal, has been awarded the contract for the general renovation of Kampnagel. Implementation of the measures, for which the federal government and Hamburg have each pledged 60 million euros, is scheduled to begin in 2025.

May 2022 Amelie Deuflhard receives the prestigious Berlin 2022 Theater Prize for "special services to German-language theater" at the 59th Theatertreffen at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

August 2022 Jonas Zipf, who was most recently plant manager of JenaKultur, the city of Jena's own enterprise for culture, city marketing and tourism, joins Kampnagel as commercial director for the 2022/23 season.