Museum Island

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Granted UNESCO National Heritage Site status in the year 1999, Berlin's Museum Island was designed to be "a sanctuary of art and science".

History of Museum Island

Museum Island, Berlin
Museum Island
The five museums that comprise Berlin's famous Museum Island are located between the Spree River and the Kupfergraben. The ornate and enticing group of museums started with King Friedrich Wilhelm III who commissioned the construction of the Royal Museum - now the Altes Museum - in 1830. The museum was built to allow the general public to view the royal art treasures of Germany.

Technically, however, the idea for the island wasn't devised until around 1841, when Friedrich August Stüler proposed the idea to create a cultural center on the island, which was lauded by all. In 1859, the New Museum was complete.
Alte Nationalmuseum, Museum Island, Berlin
Alte Nationalgalerie
The year 1876 saw the completion of the Old National Gallery. The Kaiser-Friedrich Museum (today the Bode Museum) was added in 1904 and the final museum, the Pergamon, was completed in 1930.

Sadly, nearly 70% of the buildings were destroyed during World War II and, after the war, the collections were split up between East and West Berlin.

At the end of the twentieth century a reconstruction and re-modernization program was started, designed to restore all five museums.

The Museums

Bode Museum, Museum Island, Berlin
Bode Museum

Altes Museum, Museum Island, Berlin
Altes Museum

Neues Museum, Museum Island, Berlin
Neues Museum

Pergamon Museum, Museum Island, Berlin
Pergamon Museum
The Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) re-opened in 2001 with much fanfare. It owns one of the largest collections of nineteenth-century sculpture and paintings in Germany. Visitors will find numerous works by well-known German artists of that century here as well as an excellent display of French Impressionist pieces.

Restored and reopened in 1966, the Old Museum (Altes Museum) now houses ancient Greek and Roman artifacts though it was originally built to display the treasures of the royal family. Built by the city's greatest architect, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the building resembles a Greek Corinthian Temple.

The Bode Museum reopened in 2006 after almost ten years of renovation. The museum boasts a large collection of sculptures, one of the world's largest numismatic collections and a selection of paintings from the Gemäldegalerie.

The Neues Museum reopened in 2009 and houses a collection of prehistoric, early history and Egyptian works of Art. It has is connected to the Altes Museum via a walkway. The museum's most famous artifact is the bust of Queen Nefertiti.

In the monumental Pergamon Museum, you'll find a collection of Greek and Babylonian antiquities including the impressive Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the enormous Pergamon Altar.

More Buildings

Dom, Berlin
Berliner Dom

Marstall, Berlin
There are also a number of other important buildings on the island. One of them is the Dom, Berlin's protestant Cathedral, built at the end of the eighteenth century as the counterpart of the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Right next to the cathedral stood the Stadtschloss, an enormous nineteenth-century palace. In 1950, the building - which was considered a symbol of Prussian militarism - was demolished by the East Germans and in 1976 it was replaced by the Palast der Republik which, in turn, was also demolished, in 2006, after the reunification of Germany. In 2007 a project to rebuild the Stadtschloss, which will be called 'Humboldtforum', was approved by the parliament.

Adjacent to the former palace is the Marstall, the royal stables. The large Baroque building is just a wing of the former complex that was built in 1669 by the Dutch architect Michael Matthias Smids. The building is now used as a library and archive.

Hackescher Markt (S5, S7, S75)
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