A treasure trove for lovers of art and archaeology, Museum Island is an expensive but visually stunning day out.
Upon entering each museum visitors will be struck not just by the beauty of the artefacts but also by the buildings that house them. From the neoclassical Altes Museum to the modern minimalist style of the Neues, every museum seems to embody the classical ideal of inner and outer beauty.
The museum’s contents range from early prehistoric skeletons to full scale reconstructions of Roman gates and sculptures from Germany’s Gothic period.
The Pergamum is in many ways regarded as the jewel in the crown of Berlin’s Museum scene, and it’s a well-deserved title. The world-famous Ishtar and Miletus Market Gates are a shining example of what can be achieved through modern restoration of ancient works. The Ishtar Gate dates back to over 2000 years ago, but looking at the vivid blue and gold mosaic walls today, it looks as recent as ever. The Miletus Market Gate is just as well persevered, although slightly younger, and comes complete with a viewing balcony opposite to properly appreciate the structure. The actual exhibits are presented back to back, allowing visitors to walk through them, and it’s a thrilling way to connect with their original use. Unfortunately, current renovations mean that the full range of this museum’s exhibits are unavailable, including the Pergamum altar the museum was named for.
The Altes Museum of Greek and Roman sculpture is an exhibit as beautifully arranged as it is informative. It provides visitors with a sumptuous look into Greco-Roman life, through the medium of Classical art. The actual path of the exhibitions take visitors around individual
aspects of Greek and Roman lives; from public sport and the army, to women’s lives and the role of funerary art, allowing visitors to both admire the art and understand it’s historical context.
The Neues Museum blends Ancient Egyptian art with bold modernist architecture, creating a clash of cultures that perfectly sums up the Berlin Museum scene. Consisting of 3 floors the museum covers ancient burial rites, Egyptian and Roman artefacts and early prehistoric archeology.
The Bode and Altes National Gallery cover everything from Early Byzantium to the 1800s, a wide ranging collection of paintings, sculptures and murals from all over Europe. Works collected range from Monet to Manet and everything in between, culminating in the largest collection of 19th century paintings and statues in Germany.
However, it’s not just the art that’s historical, as the buildings themselves have a pretty complex past. The majority of the museums were built in the 1800s and have since been made world heritage sites due to their historical importance and outstanding beauty. As a result of allied bombing during the war, many of the museums were left as ruins until way into the 1990s – renovations of the Neues Museum in particular finished as late as 2009.
Outside of the art and history, the island itself is one of Berlin’s more picturesque regions, meaning it’s great for a picnic lunch before exploring the nearby shops of Alexanderplatz.
Address- Am Lustgarten 1, 10117 Berlin BE
Transport- U-Bahn U6 (Friedrichstraße)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25 (Friedrichstraße); S5, S7, S75 (Hackescher Markt)
Tram M1, 12 (Am Kupfergraben); M4, M5, M6 (Hackescher Markt)
Bus TXL (Staatsoper); 100, 200
Opening Times: vary by museum
Price: 10.00 per museum or 18.00 for a day pass to all museums