Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin

Posted in Berlin, Explore, Germany
Altes Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Both the Altes and Neues Museums call Museuminsel (Museum Island) home. It’s an island in the Mitte district of Berlin that plays host to five world-renowned museums and the Berliner Dom, making it a must-see destination for a Berlin tourist. 

With 175 museums, Berlin has more museums than rainy days. It also boasts more than 140 theatres and around 300 cinemas. The city has 4,650 restaurants, around 900 bars and 190 clubs and discotheques. It also has more doner kebab shops than Istanbul! | Visit Berlin

Berlin isn’t short of museums and if there’s something you’re interested in, I’m quite certain you’d find something interesting here. From visiting a nuclear bomb shelter to dinosaur bones, gazing at a Rubens or discovering Currywurst, Germany’s capital city will cater to your tastes. The list feels almost endless.

With limited time in Berlin, we didn’t even scratch the surface of what this massive city has to offer.

Museum Island (Museuminsel)

Perhaps the most immediately recognisable feature of Museum Island is the Berliner Dom. It’s Berlin’s largest church and probably one of the most photographed locations in the city.

Berliner Dom on Museum Island, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

It’s incredible to think that following completion in 1905, this building was effectively transformed into a ruin in 1944. More incredible still is that major restoration works took until the 80’s and 90’s to complete, with some areas remaining unfinished until as recently as 2002! You can find out more about visiting Berlin Cathedral at their website.

The UNESCO World Heritage designated Museuminsel is also home to five museums. Here you’ll find the Pergamon Museum, famous for its reconstructions of massive archaeological structures – including the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus.

View of the Alte Nationalgalerie on Museum Island, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

There’s the Bode Museum, displaying Byzantine Art and Sculpture along with one of the largest collections of coins and medals you’re ever likely to find. The beautiful Alte Nationalgalerie (above and below), gives the impression of a classicist temple, housing artworks by Monet, Renoir and Cézanne. And of course, this island is where you’ll find the Altes and Neues Museums.

Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

All five museums can be visited (on the same day) with the Museum Island Ticket for €18. Alternatively, if you’re just interested in one museum, the individual ticket prices range from €10 to around €14. One thing to watch out for is the queues. They can be utterly horrific, though with a little planning can be somewhat avoided. I suggest either…

Option Number One | Buy your ticket online, in advance. In doing so, you can get the option for timed entry to the Pergamon and Neues Museums. Turn up at the right time and you’re in.

Option Number Two | Arrive at the Museum Island ticket booth before 10am. We arrived at around 9:50am and there was already a short queue in front of us! If you’re planning on visiting the Pergamon Museum, head straight there. The queue for this was already at around 1 hour 30 minutes when we left the Neues Museum around 2 hours later… When you’re very limited for time, this makes a huge difference. 

Museum Island, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

The Neues Museum

The most famous artefact on display here is the world-famous bust of Nefertiti. Dating from the Amarna Period, this beautiful representation of the mysterious queen of Egypt is probably one of the most iconic images of ancient Egypt. As instantly recognisable as the death mask of Tutankhamun, she inspires many to visit the Neues Museum in Berlin – including me!

Museum Island Tickets, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

I’d been wanting to see the bust since I stumbled across her face in a glossy paged educational book as a child… happily, the experience didn’t disappoint. Naturally, cameras may not be used here… so no photographs, but on the off chance you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at the bust here.

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and three daughters beneath the Aten from Amarna | EatExploreEtc.com

Egyptian Hippo Artefact in the Neues Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Other than Nefertiti, the Neues Museum displays a range of collections covering ancient cultures from around the world. From images of royalty to sarcophagi, from Stone Age tools to the bizarre looking Bronze Age “Berlin Gold Hat”, the collection is varied and thoughtfully displayed. And actually, one of the most unexpected things I enjoyed about the museum was the building itself.

Neues Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Room Scene Setting in the Neues Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Following World War II, the heavily damaged building was abandoned. It took until 2003 before British architect David Chipperfield got to work on restoring the building.

The building’s façade and interiors were carefully preserved, the scars of the war were not patched over but rather incorporated into the restoration of the landmarked building. What emerged was a restored historical building that is simultaneously a modern museum. | Neues Museum

Interesting Display Rooms at the Neues Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

Beautiful Flooring at the Neues Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

With the restoration work completed, they’ve created a space that feels old, historic and welcoming. It’s difficult to put into words, but the second most memorable experience I’ve taken from this museum is of the building itself. I fell instantly in love with it (and the tiled, mosaic flooring!).

Utilising a series of weathered and themed spaces, the Neues Museum feels relaxed and cosy. It perfectly captures and creates an atmosphere well suited to viewing the vast collection of artefacts housed here, providing an interesting contrast to the modernity of many newly purpose built museum spaces.

Useful Info

Location | Neues Museum, Museumsinsel, Berlin, 10178 Berlin
Opening Times | Daily from 10am to 6pm | to 8pm on Thursdays  –  closed on specific holidays
Admission | Various Tickets Available | The Museum Island Ticket costs €18
Find Out More | Website

Always check with the Museum to confirm any details important to you before you travel!

The Altes Museum

Completed in 1830, this column fronted building houses a range of ancient artefacts from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan eras.

Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

The Altes Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

In truth, we didn’t spend all that long in this museum. Having seen large collections of similar works in London, New York and Rome, we’ve perhaps reached our limit on exploring Greek and Roman pottery, coinage and statues. Elements of my degree involved Classical studies, so it’s fair to say I’ve been touring museums for these artefacts on a regular basis for years.

Artefacts on Display at the Altes Museum, Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

The Rotunda, modelled on the Altes Museum in Berlin | From the article "Explore: The Neues Museum and Altes Museum on Museum Island, Berlin" | EatExploreEtc.com

One aspect of the Altes Museum that’s particularly memorable is the rotunda filled with sculpture. It’s clearly influenced by the Pantheon in Rome, echoing similar elements of spatial design on the domed roof. The resultingly light, airy, peaceful and thoughtful space is a pleasure to walk around.

Useful Info

Location | Altes Museum, Museumsinsel, Berlin, 10178 Berlin
Opening Times | Monday Closed | Tuesday – Sunday, 10am to 6pm | to 8pm on Thursdays  –  closed on specific holidays
Admission | Various Tickets Available | The Museum Island Ticket costs €18
Find Out More | Website

Always check with the Museum to confirm any details important to you before you travel!

5th August, 2017
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