Berlin's Museums & Art Galleries

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Berlin’s Best Archaeology, History & Art Museums & Galleries

While there is no single designated ‘archaeology museum of Berlin,’ the German capital city has an exception set of archaeology and history museums. The history of the collections housed in these museums is as fascinating as the objects therein, starting with curiosities collected by the House of the Hohenzollern to artefacts recovered by German archaeologists working at some of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Many of these collections, managed by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (the Berlin State Museums), are housed in one of the most iconic museum settings in the world, that is Museuminsel.

And of course Berlin has been at the centre of European politics for at least 200 years. Numerous sites and museums around the city present this history for visitors to Berlin. These range from the more serious but not less interesting GDR Museum – the only museum entirely dedicated to all aspects of life in the former German Democratic Republic – to the fun Currywurst Museum. In fact it is said there are over 170 museums in Berlin.

Buying Tickets for Museuminsel & Museums in Berlin, 2019

Whether you want to see the collections in only one or two of the five museums or plan on seeing as much as you can, here we outline your various options. From single entry tickets to each of the museums to the various passes and cards that can be used for Museum Island as well as other museums and attractions in Berlin. Which ticket or pass will work for you will depend on what you want to see and do … Continue Reading >>

Thomas Dowson

Archaeology Travel

The Berlin WelcomeCard pack, includes a guide book and a map.

Museuminsel – Museum Island

The entrance to the Altes Museum on the Museum Island in Berlin.

Altes Museum

Built in the 1820s, the ‘Old Museum’ was the first of the five museums on Museuminsel. Still today it is considered one of the most important Neoclassical buildings in Berlin. 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.

The entrance to the Alte Nationalegalerie on Museuminsel, Berlin.

Alte Nationalgalerie

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. The third museum to be constructed on Museum 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.

The entrance to Hadrian's Library at the Pentelic marble façade in Athens, Greece.

Bode Museum

Opened in 1904 this the fourth of the five museums was intended to display the state’s collection of ‘Old Masters’ and Christian era sculptures. During the 1940s it suffered serious damage, and was extensively reconstructed and refurbished, renamed and re-opened in 2005. Today exhibits are taken from the Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art, as over 4,000 coins and medallions from the Numismatic Collection.

Sculpture at the entrance to the Neues Museum on Museuminsel, Berlin.

Neues Museum

The ‘New Museum’ was completed in 1855, but suffered considerable damage during World War II. After extensive refurbishment that makes a feature of the traces of past damage, it was opened to the public in 2009. The museum houses three major 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.

The original entrance to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Pergamon Museum

The last of the five museums built on the island, The Pergamon Museum was built to house the Pergamon Altar. Other highlights include the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus. Currently being refurbished to add a fourth wing, parts of the museum will be closed until at least 2023. The museum displays objects from the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art.

History Museums

Entrance to the German Spy Museum on Leipziger Platz, Berlin.

German Spy Museum

In the newly reconstructed Leipziger Platz, only metres from where the Berlin Wall pass, is Germany’s only museum dedicated to the dark arts of espionage. Using interactive and multimedia technologies, visitors are able to get a hands-on feel for the history of spying – in what was once considered the capital of the spy world. Objects on display include Hitler’s Enigma cipher machine and original James Bond props.

The entrance to the Jewish Museum in Berlin, next to Daniel Libeskind's Building.

Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum Berlin)

Three strikingly different buildings make up the Jewish Museum exploring German-Jewish History. A Baroque palace that was once the Royal Court of Justice serves as the main entrance to the museum complex. From here via an underground passage visitors enter the Daniel Libeskind building that takes the form of a twisted zigzag. Over the street is the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, the refurbished wholesale flower market.

Inside the Interpretation Centre at the Topography of Terror.

Topography of Terror

From 1933 to 1945 the building at 8 Prinz-Albrecht street became the headquarters of the Secret State Police Office. From here the crimes of the Nazis across Europe during World War II were planned. It was bombed several times during Allies air raids, and totally destroyed by 1956. Remnants of the cellars, 'house prison' and a section of the Berlin Wall make up an extensive outdoor and indoor history museum. FREE ENTRY to all.

Art Museums and Galleries in Berlin

Entrance to Dalí - The exhibition at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

Dalí - The Exhibition at Potsdamer 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 Museuminsel, the collection is currently located in the Kulturforum.

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