One of the most striking buildings in Berlin, the Altes Museum houses a vast range of ancient artefacts from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan eras.
The Altes Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island takes visitors back to explore antiquity, allowing you to admire the fascinating works of the Romans, Greeks and Etruscans. Marvel at small treasures such as vases and jewellery to larger pieces of art and sculptures.
Discover the antique treasures of Altes Museum
An icon of Neoclassical architecture, the Altes Museum is truly impressive. Completed in 1830, the monumental pillars, expansive atrium and rotunda lined with antique sculptures resemble the Pantheon in Rome. The museum is initially commissioned to house the Prussian royal family’s art collection. On seeing the magnificence of the museum upon completion, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV designates the northern part of Spree Island (now known as Museum Island) a sanctuary for art and science. Since its creation, the building has had numerous renovations, both to expand and repair. This most notably happens after a truck explodes outside the museum in WW2. Now, the primary collection houses Greek and Roman art and sculptures, with special exhibitions running periodically. After being greeted by the 18 towering pillars, an imposing staircase leads you on to the museum’s different collections. You are guided chronologically through the spectacular artworks, starting with Ancient Greece, from the 10th until the 1st century BC. Then you continue onto a remarkable collection of gold and silver jewellery. You’ll also discover the ‘Blue Chamber’ filled with a fascinating array of historical coins.
Exceptional features not to miss at Altes Museum
- The building houses the largest collection of Etruscan art outside Italy
- The coin collection is one of the most significant in history, with over 1300 coins ranging from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century AD.
- A light-filled rotunda at the entrance filled with antique sculptures and splendid caskets
- A unique treasure vault where you can see valuable jewellery and gem stones
- Portrait busts of Caesar and Cleopatra
Highlights to see on Museum Island
The Altes Museum's location in the heart of Museum Island means there are plenty of things to discover nearby. Just north of the Altes Museum is the Neues Museum which displays Egyptian, prehistorical and early historical collections. Amongst the many treasures housed here is the famed bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Built slightly later than the previous two museums, the Pergamon Museum is the most visited in the city. Whilst it also has an antiquity collection, it houses a wonderful collection of Islamic and Middle Eastern art. You’re sure to be wowed by the lovingly reassembled monumental structures such as the Market Gate of Miletus. Another museum in the area is the Alte Nationalgalerie, which forms part of the Berlin National Gallery and showcases a variety of Neoclassical, Romantic, Impressionist and early Modernist artworks. For something a bit different, visit the permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Deutsches Historisches Museum. Devoted to German history, from political culture to current affairs, it contains a cinema and a library for further research. Situated on the site of the former Berlin Palace, and opening in 2019, is the Humboldt Forum in the re-built palace. This modern museum is set to contain African and other non-European art, as well as housing two restaurants and a theatre.
Preparing for your visit
Getting to Museum Island is straightforward because of its central location. The nearest parking garage is located on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, opposite the Berlin Cathedral. If you’re coming via public transport, then you can take one of the S-Bahn lines S5, S7 or S75 to Hackescher Markt station. From there it is around a 600-metre walk to the Altes Museum. Alternatively, you can take buses 100 or 200 and get off at Am Lustgarten. The Altes Museum is open six days a week, being closed on Mondays. If you’d prefer to explore the museum at a leisurely pace and with more room, it is recommended to arrive just after opening time. The museum is open later each Thursday, when there are also fewer visitors. You can use the Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island to explore all the museums on Museum Island over three consecutive days. With a Museum Pass Berlin you can visit 50 other museums in Berlin for free. If it interests you, the museum also offers special rates for group tours and school classes when booking in advance.