16 Berlin Museums you should check out if you are an art junkie
Museums with bullet holes inside. Art in a World War two bunker. Paintings in a former butter factory. Beautiful Egyptian ladies and heretic kings. Berlin museums are out the ordinary and quiet spectacular. These are the 16 Berlin museums you should check out if you are an art junkie.
1: Neues Museum: semi-ruined museum
Neues Museum is full of bullet holes. It opened a few years ago after being closed for decades. The architect combined new and old styles beautifully. Inside you will find great Egyptian statues. Like the beautiful Egyptian queen Nefertiti and her heretic husband king Akhenaten, to name a few.
2. Alte Nationalgalerie: romantic temple
Alte Nationalgalerei looks just like a Greek temple. But inside you will find romantic art and paintings by German and French masters like Caspar David Friedrich and Monet. It makes it the ideal place to be if you want to take your loved one on a romantic date, with painted flowers instead of the real deal.
3. Altes Museum: Rome in Berlin
When you stand in front of the Altes Museum on Museumsinsel you will feel like you are in Rome or Greece. The huge iconic columns look just like an impressive Greek temple. Although the ancient Greeks didn’t build this art temple, inside the Altes Museum you will discover the ancient artifacts created in the burning sun of Greece, Rome and Egypt.
4. Bodemuseum: architectural landmark
The Bode Museum is one of the architectural landmarks of Museumsinsel. If you cross the river Spree you will see the round walls of the Bode Museum instantly. The collection of the Bode Museum is not so well known as the other museums on Museumsinsel. But the statues from West-Roman and Byzantium times, combined with great architecture make this a place to be.
5. Deutsches Historisches Museum: history museum
Deutsches Historisches Museum is a great museum if you want to know about the history of Germany. It tells you how Germany came into existence, the religious fights between the catholics and reformers, World War One and Two and the Cold War. And it is situated at the former Berlin armory.
6. Gropius Bau: scarred by war
The scars of both World War Two and the Cold War are visible at Gropius Bau. This art museum still has bullet holes in the facade from World War Two. The Berlin Wall is very close too, leaving Gropius Bau in noman’s land for decades. But art revenged itself. Inside you will find work by international artists and exhibitions that have traveled the world.
7. Hamburger Bahnhof: art in an old train station
You don’t have to use your imagination a lot to hear the trains hissing at former train station Hamburger Bahnhof. But the days of passengers running for their train are over. Inside you will find great art. Hamburger Bahnhof has great international artists like Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol, but they let the young artists shine as well.
8. Jewish Museum: history of the German Jews
The Jewish Museum is dedicated to the history of the German Jews. Inside you will find old artifacts, religious items, tragic letters from World War Two, family photo albums, jeans made by Levi Strauss, sad exhibitions on how the Jewish community suffered during the war. But also exhibitions on how creative the community and individuals were.
9. KW Institute: butter factory full of art
KW Institute for Contemporary Art can be found in gallery heaven Scheunenviertel in an unusual building. KW Institure for Contemporary Art is in a former butter factory, filled to the brim with modern art. The exhibitions are very interesting and they have a keen eye for controversial art.
10. Neue Nationalgalerie: modern art in a modern bunker
The Neue Nationalgalerie is the place to be if you love modern art. This stunning museum looks like a very modern bunker but instead of concrete to fill this artbox, architect Mies van der Rohe used a lot of glass. On the first floor and the cellars you can find the frivolous colors of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the kidlike art by Pablo Picasso, and the sad, colorful clowns of Max Beckman.
11. Pergamon museum: divine fights
Pergamon Museum is dedicated to the excavation in Pergamon, modern day Turkey. They have large friezes depicting the divine fight between the Giants with snake legs and the impressive Greek gods. They also have a great Islamic art section. We especially like the blue tilled walls of ancient Babylon with ferocious looking lions.
12. Sammlung Boros: art in an old war bunker
We always walked by this old World War Two bunker without knowing what was happening inside. It looks hardly inhabited from the outside, but inside this old war bunker you will see it is filled to the brim with art by the Boros family. Hence the name: Sammlung Boros. It is not a normal museum, make an appointment to get in.
13. Markisches Museum: history on Berlin
Always wondered where and how the first Berliners lived in the stone age, the middle ages and where the Berliners danced in the Wild twenties? At Markisches Museum they will tell you all about the history of Berlin. Expect interesting stories, great pictures of wildly dancing ladies and some large slabs of the Berlin Wall.
14. DDR Museum: life at GDR/DDR
If you are born in Western Europe, America or another spot in the world, far from East Germany and want to know what life in the GDR was like, you should check out the DDR Museum. They will tell you everything about the history and everyday life in the GDR, or like East Germans call it: DDR.
15. Gedenkstatte Hohenschonhause: Stasi prison
Gedenkstatte Hohenschonhause is now a memorial, in the Cold War you definitely didn’t want to be stuck here. Gedenkstatte Hohenschonhause was a Stasi prison. During a tour the former prisoners will tell you all about the grim reality they faced when they were held prison in this cold and lonesome place during the Cold War.
16. Stasi museum: spying on people
The Stasi Museum is a weird place to be. Especially when you realize the museum used to be the offices where the Stasi used to spy on it’s own people. You can visit the offices of Stasi leader Mielke as well and hear him say he spied on people because he loved them and his country so much.
A little background on the 16 museums of Berlin. The main ones can be found at Museumsinsel. A beautiful island in the middle of the river Spree. Before 1830 this area was a stinky swamp that had nothing to do with art. That all changed with the building of the Altes Museum in 1830. After that it was good riddance with the swamp and stink. Art it was! Now it is covered with museums in Greek/Roman style. You would almost think you are living in ancient Greece instead of walking around in modern, crazy Berlin.
London, New York and Paris may all have many interesting museums, but only Berlin has an island full of them.