Bethanien was built as a hospital in 1847 on the orders of Friedrich-Wilhelm IV and designed by Theodor Stein. At the time the site still lay outside the city; the building continued to serve as a hospital until 1970.
With the closure of the hospital in 1970, an intense 'struggle for Bethanien' began. Plans to demolish the building and replace it with social housing were countered through occupation, citizens’ initiatives and conservationists. Since then it has been mainly used by cultural and artistic institutions working in the main building. Besides the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien these include the printing works of the BBK Berlin, the house for artists Künstlerhaus Bethanien GmbH, and the Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district music school.

In the '70 is under the monument protection, and since 1973 its used for art works under the name of "Kuntslerhaus Bethanien".
Since 2005, the "York 59" project live there as a Hausproject (squot) in the left side of the building.

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Opened: 1947 - Closed (as a hospital): 1970