Berlin Museum Island
The unique collection of galleries and museums on Berlin Museum Island, with its five temple-like buildings, houses treasures from 6,000 years of human history. Elevated to UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999, and located in Berlin’s historical centre, the complex is the centrepiece of the city’s museum network and is Europe’s largest cultural investment project.
he Scottish historian John Strang once wrote that it would take several days to see all of the many thousands of artistic treasures housed in the Berlin museum. That was at a time when there was just one museum on this island in the river Spree: the Museum of the Ancient World, built in 1830 to designs by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the first public museum in Prussia. Then followed the New Museum in 1859, the Old National Gallery in 1876, the Bode Museum in 1904 and the Pergamon Museum in 1930.
The buildings on Berlin Museum Island house mainly 19th century art and the archaeological collections, which contain such treasures as the Ishtar Gate, the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, the bust of Nefertiti and the Berlin Gold Hat from the Bronze Age.
Post-reunification, the collections that had been dispersed between East and West Berlin were gradually reunited. Objects that been put into storage elsewhere as a result of war damage were also restored to their original places in the museums.
The New Museum, for example, had been left as a ruin for around 60 years until it was restored and rebuilt by British star architect David Chipperfield. A new building, the James Simon Gallery, will soon serve as the main entrance to the entire Museum Island. An archaeological promenade will link the various museums and galleries both spatially and thematically as well as providing an extraordinary panorama of cultures from around the world.
Berlin Museum Island
UNESCO World Heritage since 1999
From the selection criteria
The Berlin Museum Island is a unique ensemble of museum buildings, which illustrates the evolution of modern museum design over more than a century.
The modern museum is a social phenomenon that owes its origins to the Age of Enlightenment, and the French Revolution.