Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

Museum landscape of the 19th century

Museumsinsel – © Scholvien
Museumsinsel Bodemuseum – © BerlinPartnerGmbH/Scholvien

Berlin’s Museum Island is the northern tip of the Spree Island - and it is also a magnificent work of art itself, involving five world-renowned museums gathered in an extraordinary ensemble.

Since 1999, the museum has been the only architectural and cultural ensemble that is considered part of world heritage by UNESCO: Thus up to the 19th century, the gathering of art was mainly in the hands of nobles and wealthy citizens in Prussia. With the opening of the Altes Museum in 1830, this changed: Historically significant collections of art should now be available to the public. Bit by bit, four other museums followed in the area, which was named in the late 1870s "Museum Island". According to the UNESCO, the Museum Island in Berlin is an ensemble which roots go back to the Age of Enlightenment and its ideals of education. In addition, the Museum Island in Berlin reflects the evolution of modern museum design over more than a century.

At the southern part of the island, near the Schlossbrücke bridge and the Berlin Cathedral, the Old Museum can be found, which is located nearby the Lustgarten. In the northern part, there is the New Museum as well as the Alte Nationalgalerie. On the Kupfergraben side of the island can be found the Pergamon Museum. And last but not least there is the Bode Museum.

Pergamon Museum

The three-winged museum by Alfred Messel has about one million visitors per year and thus is the most visited museum in Berlin. Currently, preparations are underway for reconstruction work which is set to begin in 2011. It is expected to cost at least 350 million Euro. Permanent exhibits such as the Pergamon frieze and the Market Gate of Miletus have already been restored.

Bode Museum

After six years of restoration work, the Bode Museum reopened in 2006 (the cost of the restoration work: 152 million Euro). It houses an extensive collection of sculptures and treasures of the Museum of Byzantine Art and the Numismatic Collection. In the summer, the shore on the other side is a popular place for young people to meet each other and hang out.

Neues Museum (New Museum)

In 1841, Friedrich August Stüler started building the New Museum. He used steam power and industrially fabricated support structures, which was a structural engineering sensation at the time. During the war, the museum was destroyed, and laid in ruins until 1999. Only then did the reconstruction work begin, which ended up lasting for ten years. Since reopening in 2009, the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Prehistory and Early History have once again found a place to display their treasures. The showpiece of the New Museum is the bust of Nefertiti.

Alte Nationalgalerie

Like an ancient temple, this museum along with its stairway rises above the Museum Island. The model that inspired the architect Friedrich August Stiller was the Acropolis of Athens. It was the first museum to be renovated here (at a cost of 74 million Euro) and has been open to the public since 2001. Built between1867 and 1876 the building features works of Classicism, Romanticism, the Biedermeier era, Impressionism and early Modernism.

Altes Museum (Old Museum)

The architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel designed this neoclassical building with a rotunda, dome and portico in 1830. It was thus the first public museum in Prussia. After being destroyed in the war and being rebuilt in the 1960s, it will undergo renovation work starting in 2012. It is planned to construct a glass roof over the courtyards and renovate the steps. This will last at least four years and the estimated cost is put at 128 million Euro.

Seeing and blind persons can gain an impression of the design of the Museum Island using a tactile scale model near Altes Museum.