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Music in ancient Greece

No life without music! In light of the current situation in cultural life, the special exhibition of the Collection of Classical Antiquities in the Altes Museum on music and dance in ancient Greece takes on a special topicality.

Orpheus, der mythische Sänger aus Thrakien, galt nach dem Gott Apollon in der Antike als der Musiker par excellence. Attischer Krater, Detail, um 440 v. Chr.
Orpheus, der mythische Sänger aus Thrakien, galt nach dem Gott Apollon in der Antike als der Musiker par excellence. Attischer Krater, Detail, um 440 v. Chr. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung / Johannes Laurentius


In ancient Greece, music played a prominent role in all areas of life, both in public and in private.

We can only guess what it sounded like. But there are numerous pictorial testimonies that tell us who made music - and often danced to it - with which instruments in which situations and on which occasions. These "sound pictures" are the focus of the exhibition.

On the basis of selected vase paintings, terracotta and bronze figures, as well as a large-scale statue of Apollo, a panorama of the contexts in which music was heard is offered: on a large scale at religious rituals and cult festivals, for example in the theater and at music competitions, but also in battle; in addition, in the private sphere at evening drinking parties, in school education and in the cult of the dead.



The very high-quality objects come from the museum's own holdings. Many of them have been lying dormant in the depot and are now on display for the first time. The exhibits also include a replica of an ancient kithara, which was made especially for the exhibition. In the center of the room, the exhibition architecture recreates an ancient auditorium. The media stations built into it offer audio examples as well as a video with demonstrations of how the ancient instruments and choral pieces were played or performed.

They also provide insight into the basis on which music archaeologists have attempted to bring ancient music back to life in recent decades.

A German and an English audio guide for adults as well as another one especially for children make both areas of the exhibition sensually experienceable.While the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) questions the pictorial testimonies according to their statements about the ancient contexts, the partner exhibition "Klangbilder. Music in Ancient Egypt" of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in the special exhibition room of the Neues Museum focuses on ancient musical instruments.

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Opening times
  • Sun 10:00 - 18:00
  • Mon closed
  • Tue 10:00 - 18:00
  • Wed 10:00 - 18:00
  • Thu 10:00 - 18:00
  • Fri 10:00 - 18:00
  • Sat 10:00 - 18:00
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