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Museum Island, Berlin

Photo credit: Jorge Lascar / Foter / CC BY
Museum Island, Berlin
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Five museums in one!

Museum Island of Berlin, which in German is called Museumsinsel, is a unique blend of five internationally significant museums and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The museum is located in the heart of the capital of Germany, on the northern part of Spree Island on a river of the same name.


In 1810, King Friedrick William III commissioned the creation of a public museum on Spree Island. Later, in 1822, Karl Friedrich Schinkel drew up the plans to develop the Island and built the first museum that was opened in year 1830 and named Royal Museum, today, Alte Museum (Old Museum). In 1841, Friedrich August Stüler came up with the idea to create a cultural center on the island. Friedrich August was also the architect of the Neue Museum (New Museum) that was called Royal Prussian Museum and opened in 1859. In 1876, the National Gallery (today, Old National Gallery) was added and later, in 1904, the Kaiser-Fiedrich Museum (now Bode-Museum). The last museum, named Pergamon Museum was completed in 1930.

During the second World War, most of the museums were destroyed and the collections were split up between East and West Berlin after the war. Fortunately, the collections were brought together again after the German reunification. The museums were also restored and modernized.


Even though it is called Museum Island, there is much more to see. The Dome, for example, is Berlin’s main Cathedral. Other things to see include Princess Luise’s exotic garden, the Lustgarden.


The main attraction, though, are the museums so here is a small description of each one (in no particular order):

Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum is the most visited museum of Berlin, receiving around one million visitors each year. It was designed by Alfred Messel and the construction started in 1910 and finished in 1930. In the museum, there is a collection of Greek, Roman and Babylonian antiquities. The museum also housed the important excavation finds unearthed by the Berlin museums, such as the frieze panels from the Pergamon Altar.


Unfortunately the museum is undergoing reparations currently and it will remain closed to the public until the year 2019.


Bode Museum

The Bode-Museum was originally named “Kaiser-Friedrich Museum”. Its building began in 1897 and was completed in 1904. It houses a very extensive collection of sculptures and treasures of the Museum of Byzantine Art and the Numismatic Collection.

It was reopened in 2006, after 6 years of reparation and its collections have been growing since its reparations.


Neues Museum (New Museum)

The Museum was built between 1843 and 1859 and it has a collection of prehistoric, early history and Egyptian works of art. The most famous object in its collection is the bust of Queen Nefertiti. After the Second World War, all of the museums in the island were mostly destroyed, and this museum in particular suffered incredible damages.


Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery)

The Alte Nationalgalerie was built between 1867 and 1876. The Gallery was designed after the Acropolis of Athens. In its Collections are works of Classicism, Romanticism, the Biedermeier Era, Impressionism and early Modernism.


Altes Museum (Old Museum)

The Altes Museum was completed in year 1830 and the building that houses the museum resembles a Greek Ionic Temple. Today, the museum holds ancient Greek and Roman antiquities as well as coins even though originally, it was meant to display the treasures of the royal family.