Right in the heart of Berlin, nestled between the Spree River and the Spree Canal, lies the world-famous Museum Island. Every year, millions of visitors come to see the five museums, whose spectrum of collections ranges from prehistory to 19th century art. Not only the collections themselves are worth seeing - the ensemble of historic buildings on Museum Island is among the most beautiful architecture that Berlin has to offer.
Berlin's Museum Island is one of the most outstanding museum complexes in Europe. Five architects designed the impressive architectural ensemble in the heart of the city. Construction was finished in 1930. The museum buildings and the exhibits are equally worth seeing and attract over three million visitors annually. The exhibitions, which present objects and artifacts dating from prehistory to the 19th century, can be discovered by visitors on their own or as part of a guided tour. Museum Island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and is currently in the process of gradual restoration. The new reception building - the James Simon Gallery - functions as a visitor center. From here, visitors to Museum Island should have access to four of the five museums.
From the beginning, Museum Island was intended not only as a place where art of different styles and epochs is brought together, but also as an inner-city space for visitors to linger. The Colonnade Courtyard unites both of these intended functions: as a public garden it is a great place to spend some time, but it also displays some sculptures to spark visitors' curitosity for the extensive collection of the Alte Nationalgalerie. In this way, the Colonnade Courtyard is both an open-air museum and a space for recreation at the same time.
Museums on Museum Island
The Altes Museum, "Old Museum" in English, was built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and is a masterpiece of classicist architecture. The rotunda in this first museum building in Berlin is stunning: modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, it makes for a a fitting prelude to the collection of antiquities on display.
The Neues Museum ("New Museum") exhibits objects from the collections of the Egyptian Museum, the Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and the Collection of Classical Antiquities. The museum was built according to the plans of Friedrich August Stüler and was almost destroyed during the Second World War. After thorough restoration, the building is now an impressive symbiosis of old and new.
Next to the Neues Museum stands Stüler's second work: the Alte Nationalgalerie ("Old National Gallery"). The 19th-century building houses paintingd and sculptures and resembles an ancient temple on a high pedestal. The equestrian statue on the flight of steps represents King Frederick William IV, who had the idea for the Museum Island. The museum exhibits works by famous French Impressionists such as Manet, Monet, Renoir, along with Romantic paintings by Caspar David Friedrich and Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
The magnificent Bode Museum makes up the northern tip of Museum Island. The building, designed by Ernst von Ihne, houses a collection of sacred art from Byzantium as well as European sculptures from the Renaissance to the Baroque.
The absolute crowd-pleaser of Museum Island is Alfred Messel's Pergamon Museum., Built between 1907 and 1930, the museum features archaeological finds from antiquity, the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, and the impressive Pergamon Altar.
James Simon Gallery
The James Simon Gallery on Museum Island is the hub of the World Heritage-listed ensemble of the Pergamon Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum, the Old Museum and the New Museum.