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Museums & Art Galleries in Berlin

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Whether your interests lie in the history of Berlin or beyond, you are spoilt for choice. A number of museums explore the capital’s turbulent past. Archaeology museums, tourist attractions in their own right, have collections amassed by the House of Hohenzollern as well as artefacts recovered by German archaeologists working at some of the most important archaeological sites around the world. Art lovers are as well catered for with some of the finest collections of images and objects from Byzantine times to the present.

Archaeology Museums in Berlin

Altes Museum, Museumsinsel

Built in the 1820s, Berlin’s Altes Museum, or the ‘Old Museum’, was the first of the five museums to be constructed on Museumsinsel. Still today it is considered one of the most important Neoclassical buildings in the city. A fitting context for the state’s Collection of Classical Antiquities, which includes numerous Greek, Etruscan and Roman objects ranging from the 10th century BC to the 3rd century AD. Also on display are some 1,300 antique coins from the Numismatic Collection.

Bode Museum, Museumsinsel

Opened in 1904 this the fourth of the five museums on Museumsinsel was intended to display the state’s collection of ‘Old Masters’ and Christian era sculptures. It was damaged during the 1940s and was extensively reconstructed and refurbished, then renamed and reopened in 2005. Today exhibits include the Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art, and over 4,000 coins and medallions from the Numismatic Collection.

Humboldt Forum

Following the reunification of Germany and considerable debate, it was agreed to partially reconstruct the great Baroque Berlin Palace to provide a new cultural space in the city. Opened in 2021, the venue hosts numerous permanent and temporary exhibitions. Some of these exhibitions explore 800 years of history at this extraordinary site, from monastery to royal palace to Cold War Palace. The Forum houses four museums, including the Ethnological Museum and the Asian Art Museum.

Museumsdorf Düppel

The museum village at Düppel in south west Berlin is a reconstructed medieval settlement based on archaeological evidence found in the area. In the 1960s archaeologists revealed the remains of a small, palisaded settlement dating to about 1170.  With a number of reconstructed buildings from the time, including  replicas of homes, storehouses and workshops, and the presence of old livestock breeds, visitors of all ages get an idea of what live was like in an early medieval village. Run by a friends of the museum association, the organisation is involved in a number or experimental archaeology projects.

Neues Museum, Museumsinsel

The ‘New Museum’ was completed in 1855, but suffered considerable damage during World War II. After a major refurbishment it re-opened in 2009. The museum houses three collections: the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Museum for Prehistory and Early History, and the Collection of Classical Antiquities. One of the most celebrated pieces is the bust of Nefertiti.

Pergamon 360

In a circular rotunda 30 m high, visitors can view a 360° panorama of the Graeco-Roman city of Pergamon. The ‘snapshot’ is from a day in 129 AD, a day on which the festival of the god Dionysos was held and the city was visited by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The enormous image, which you climb a central tower to experience at different heights, was created by Yadegar Asisi and is based on the current state of archaeological knowledge. Also on display are important pieces from the Pergamon Collection. This attractions is open while the Pergamon Museum is closed.

Pergamon Museum, Museumsinsel

The last of the five museums built on Museumsinsel, The Pergamon Museum was built to house the Pergamon Altar. Other highlights include the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus. The museum also displays objects from the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art. Currently being refurbished to add a fourth wing, the museum is closed until at least 2027.

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Art Museums & Galleries in Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie, Museumsinsel

The ‘Old National Gallery’ displays artworks from the 19th century period of art history. From early Neoclassical and Romantic periods to the Impressionists, with pieces by Friedrich and Liebermann, to Monet and Manet. This was the third museum to be constructed on Museums Island, the Alte Nationalgalerie was opened on 22 March 1878 – Kaiser Wilhelm I’s birthday. The design was inspired by ancient, raised Greek and Roman temples.

Dalí - the Exhibition at Postdamer Platz

With over 2,000 original works by Salvador Dalí in some 450 exhibits, the museum is a wonderful place to explore the range of his creative output. Besides a collection of paintings, for which the artists is well known, other pieces include sketches, etchings, wood carvings, sculptures, texts and film scenes. The exhibition is a permanent one, made up of a number of works on loan from private owners.

Gemäldegalerie

The Gemäldegalerie, literally the Picture Gallery, has one of the world’s largest collections of paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. On display are 1,400 works by some of Europe’s greatest painters, including Rembrandt and Botticelli, Holbein and Vermeer. Founded in 1830 and originally displayed in what is today the Altes Museum on Museumsinsel, the collection is currently located in the Kulturforum.

Gropius Bau

Built at the end of the 1870s in the neo-Renaissance style, Gropius Bau has been described as one of Germany’s most beautiful historic buildings. The building suffered considerable damage during World War II and has been extensively renovated. Before the war it housed the Museum of Prehistory and Early History and the East Asian Art Collection. Today, this is one of the leading exhibition venues in Europe. The gallery hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and archaeology.

Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in der Villa Oppenheim

The Oppenheim Villa is home to the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Museum, devoted to the art and cultural history of the Charlottenburg Wilmersdorf district of Berlin. The art exhibition is showcases 19th century German paintings and sculptures, particularly those associated with the Berlin Secession art movement. ‘Westen!’ is a multimedia permanent exhibit that traces three centuries of history in these two areas of Berlin, leading up to their amalgamation into one administrative district in 2001.

History Museums in Berlin

Cold War Museum

Advertised as the first ever Cold War Museum, here visitors learn about the Cold War in a high tech, futuristic setting. Permanent exhibits include archive film showing key players such as Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl. With the aid of original artefacts including a Soviet-era rocket, a Telex machine and Cold War spacesuit, the various exhibits explore the central themes of the Cold War, namely the Space Race, nuclear disarmament and Espionage. A VR option allows visitors to go back in time to a divided Berlin. You get to follow an East German Border guard as he attempts to escape to the West.

DDR Museum

The DDR Museum offers visitors an immersive experience of life in the German Democratic Republic. From sitting in a typical East German living room to an interrogation room. From taking a drive in Trabi to being inside a prison cell. Visitors are encourage to touch interact with objects in three themed areas and 45 topics to get an idea of everyday life behind the Berlin Wall and the workings of the state and its security apparatus. This is the largest museum focused on the GDR in Berlin.

German Spy Museum

Berlin’s Spy Museum, the only one of its kind in Germany, offers visitors a multi-media journey through the history of espionage. The story starts with secret scriptures from the ancient world and ends with the contemporary NSA debate. You will learn about the many elaborate spy techniques used, hear from former agents and learn details of legendary secret operations. Fancy becoming a spy? See if you have what it takes in a recreations of Tom Cruise’s ‘mission impossible’.

Jewish Museum Berlin

With the aid of multimedia and interactive displays, the Jüdisches Museum allows visitors to learn about the history of Jews in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present. Consisting of two buildings, Berlin’s Jewish Museum is the largest Jewish museum in Europe. Visitors enter through the 18th century Kollegienhaus and make their way to the striking building designed by Daniel Libeskind. The ‘Axis of Exile’ leads from one building to the other and on to the ‘Garden of Exile’.

Stasi Museum

The Stasi Museum in Berlin is housed in what was the main building of the East German Ministry of State Security, the so-called House 1. The highlight is the office of Erich Mielke, who was Minister of State for Security and head of the Stasi from 1957 until 1989. Using original artefacts used by Stasi operatives and their informers, such as bugs, hidden cameras and weapons, exhibits explore the power and influence the Stasi had in trying to control the East German population. Some parts have been left in much the same state as they were left when activists entered the building in January 1990. Guided tours are offered in German and English.

Topography of Terrors

Topographie des Terrors in central Berlin is an indoor and outdoor exhibition space detailing the horrors of the Nazi regime. The site was the headquarters of both the SS and Gestapo. Who not only planned many atrocties here, but so too were prisoners tortured in the Gestapo cellar. Before May 1933 this was the Prinz-Albrecht-Palais. The area was heavily destroyed at the end of the war, but recent excavations have uncovered the cellars and other basement elements.

Trabi Museum

Opened in 2013, at the Trabi Museum you will learn everything you wanted to know about this iconic East German car. Fifteen models display the vehicle’s versatility, including military jeeps and police cars, and the very rare camping Trabant. A film showing interviews with fans and engineers give a more personal perspective as to why the Trabant from Zwickau in Saxon, was such a sort after car.