The Museum Island

The Museum Island
Source:         Photographer: Rainer Sturm

The Museum Island is an attraction that no visitor to Berlin should miss. It lies directly on the River Spree and is generally considered as a collective work of art that incorporates 5 significant museums. The foundations for the Museum Island were laid over 100 years ago however; three quarters of the buildings were destroyed during the Second World War. In the last few years and decades tremendous financial resources and corresponding labour have been contributed to fully restore the Museum Island. The work however, is still not fully completed.

In 1830 the’ Old Museum’ stood where today’s Museum Island lies and which today includes a remarkable collection of ancient art and sculptures. The magnificent building with its richly decorated dome indicates already from its exterior that it is the perfect place for visitors interested in culture.

Directly adjacent to it is the New Museum- built in the years 1843-1860. It was originally built because the ‘Old Museum’ was pushed to its full capacity within a few years. In the Second World War the New Museum, was as a result of the attacks from allied aircrafts, destroyed to its foundations and subsequently took decades of work to rebuild. It was only ready for re-opening in 2009. The focus of the exhibition in the New Museum is the history of mankind, which is impressively illustrated with countless exhibits and information panels.

The Museum Island
Source:         Photographer: Tobi Meyer

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A further focus of the Museum Island is the Old National Gallery. It was built and designed over almost ten years starting from 1867 by Friedrich August Stüler. The Old National Gallery impresses even from the outside – with its grand staircase and equestrian statue of Friedrich Willhelm IV. Even this building was largely destroyed during the course of the Second World War, however was already greatly restored by the fifties. In the nineties however the construction was already in such an ailing condition that extensive restoration work was required. This then took place between the years of 1997 to 2001, whereupon the Old National Gallery was able to re-open in December of 2001. Today it houses predominantly great works of art by painters such as Renoir, Monet, Liebermann and many more.

The fourth attraction of the Museum Island is the Bode Museum. The exterior of the building is reminiscent of a ship and is particularly impressive with the great dome over the lobby. The name of the museum comes from its director – Willhelm von Bode who conceptualised the design of the entire exhibition. The Bode Museum contains numerous works of art from great painters, a comprehensive collection of sculptures and a major exhibition of Byzantine art.

The final of the five museums on the ‘Island’ is the Pergamon Museum. It was only built in 1930 however was largely destroyed during the war. Its reconstruction subsequently took several decades. The biggest attraction in the Pergamon Museum is the Altar of Pergamon. Furthermore, the Roman gate of Miletus and the Ishar Gate of Babylon are exhibited here. Those interested in ancient world history should by all means visit the Pergamon Museum.

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