Museums in Berlin

It’s almost hard to fathom, but the city of Berlin is home to more than 170 museums and collections and they offer a foray into virtually every area of art and history. With this in mind it seems as though any trip should be punctuated with trips to a variety of museums that would enhance the visit and give you a deeper understanding of the world around you.

Charlottenburg Palace

Not only is the Charlottenburg Palace a museum with a collection worthy of viewing, but the exterior of this palace is remarkable and deserves more than a second glance. A baroque style castle, the structure took more than 100 years to complete and its central section, which was constructed between 1695-99, features 11 window axes and earned the name Charlottenburg, named after Electress Sophie Charlotte, a summer resident. The interior of the palace is also mainly baroque in nature but also has a fair representation of rococo style as well. One of the most incredible rooms inside the palace is quite possibly one of the most incredible rooms ever created, in fact it’s been named the eighth wonder of the world. The Amber Room features walls completely covered with decorative amber, gold leaf and mirrors. During WWII the room was raided and has never been recovered, but the room has since been restored to almost its original beauty. The grounds and the formal gardens are also quite exquisite and will inspire dreams of large lawns for anyone.

Haus am Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie originally started in 1962 in a small apartment and only occupied two and a half rooms. The popularity of Checkpoint Charlie was immediately evident and by 1963 a new location was opened and dubbed Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. Basically this was a location in the Berlin Wall that was known to be a crossing point for those eastern Berliners looking to escape to the west. For many people Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the cold war and an escape to freedom. After the reunification the area became a tourist attraction. It was moved to the Allied Museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf but the original location is still marked by a line of bricks.

Stiftung Topographie des Terrors

It can’t be ignored that one of Germany’s more recent notations in the history of the world is not a very positive one. But the country must be commended in its willingness to embrace the mistakes of their past and push forward toward better understanding of the errors of the past. The Stiftung Topographie des Terrors was one of the central institutions responsible for the policies of the National Socialism from 1933 to 1945. It is perhaps the only remaining site in the world and throughout world history where so much terror and murder were meticulously planned. There are many displays and exhibits, all of them chilling and soul stirring. It’s a site that must be seen by tourists and locals alike.

Pergamon-Museum

The Pergamon-Museum is actually three sub museums rolled into one, the Collection of Classical Antiquities, Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art. With three incredible museums all rolled up into one destination there is almost too much to see. Some of the highlights that should not be missed are the Zeus Altar, Market Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar Gate. This doesn’t mean the other exhibits aren’t worth exploring but these three will simply blow you away in their enormity, intricacy and celebrated history. To get more out of your experience you should pick up the 30 minute recorded tour for a bit of background on the museum and its exhibits.

Museum fur Naturkunde Berlin

The Museum fur Naturkunde Berlin or Berlin Museum of Natural History houses more than 30 million objects within its zoological, paleontological, geological and mineralogical collections. This amazing collection spans more than 6,000 square meters of exhibit halls and includes two very famous exhibits, the largest mounted dinosaur in the world and an exquisitely preserved bird which is the earliest known one on the planet.

German Historical Museum Berlin

The German Historical Museum in Berlin has a permanent exhibit which unveils the images and artifacts of more than two millennia of German history. But the permanent exhibit isn’t all the German Historical Museum of Berlin has to offer, it also features museum shows which change exhibits regularly and is situated in a remarkable hall designed but famed architect I.M. Pei.

Old National Gallery

Old National Gallery in Berlin was established in 1861 as banker J.H.W. Wagener donated his art collection to the king and a building was established to house his prized works of art. Much of the works of art housed at the Old National Gallery, or Alte Nationalgalerie is 19th century art and is supported by the Neue Nationalgalerie, or New National Gallery’s 20th century art works. The museum was severely damaged during the Second World War and has undergone numerous restorations leading to its state today as a leader on Berlin’s Museum Island.

New National Gallery

The New National Gallery in Berlin is also referred to as the Neue Nationalgalerie and features works of art that are mainly 20th century art works. Throughout the year the gallery switches from special temporary exhibits to their permanent collection so there is usually something new to explore or something old to rediscover. Established in the 1960s the building itself wasn’t erected until 1968 and with famed architect Mies van der Rohe at the helm the building is noted as one of the best examples of modern architecture in the world. The New National Gallery is considered one of the most important museums in Europe with paintings and other art works by some of the best known artists from 1900 through the late 20th century.

Gemaldegalerie

The Gemaldegalerie or Old Masters Gallery in Berlin is the proud holder of one of the world’s leading collections of European art from the 13th to 18th centuries. An unusual approach is taken to the displays of art at the Gemaldegalerie, the artwork arranged so that each room formulates a statement about the artists, the period, or the style contained within. Within the walls of the Old Masters Gallery you can see such noted masters as Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and many others.

Obviously this list just barely touches the extensive depth and breadth of museums and cultural exhibits the city of Berlin has to offer. Open your heart and mind and explore museums you’d never even contemplated to learn the most and grow from your experiences.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt

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