The Neues Museum attracts many visitors – with its fascinating architecture and the bust of Nefertiti, it is one of the most visited and admired museums in Berlin. But I am regularly drawn there because of a very different exhibit at the museum. In the display cases in the room above the Nile valley space, there are boat models and animal figures including two small faience hippopotami, one of which appears to have a happy but mischievous smile. It has retained its youthful charm, although it has been for around for quite some time - incredibly, it is almost 4,000 years-old. It has witnessed almost all of human history and, despite this, smiles happily. I have been visiting the small blue-green hippo for many years. The first time was in Charlottenburg when I was spellbound by its mischievous smile.
Then I saw it in the exhibition of the Altes Museum. It then moved to the Neues Museum. But when I first visited the museum, I looked for it but at first couldn't find it. I wandered from room to room in a worried state – could it be that my favourite exhibit was no longer on show? Surely not, as it is adorned on the postcards in the museum shop. Finally I found it in a display case down in the hall. It was still smiling just as it has been doing for thousands of years - the little blue hippo.