Gropius Bau: scarred by war
At Martin Gropius Bau you immediately see the scars of both World War two and the Cold War. The museum is covered with bullet holes. It was right in the line of fire during the Second World War. Topographie des Terrors, where the horrors of that war are depicted, is near. Gropius Bau is situated on the border of Mitte and Kreuzberg and in that way it was right in the middle of noman’s land after the Berlin Wall was erected. You can still see a few pieces of the Berlin Wall right next to the museum.
Violent history of Gropius Bau
The violent history surrounding the museum left a lot of marks in the building, designed by Martin Gropius (uncle of Walter Gropius). The thick bullet holes are still in the facade and the iconic columns of the building.
When they renovated the building in the eighties, they didn’t smoothen up those scars made by war. The bullets remained. They make the building look interesting. Take a good look at the façade before you enter. Not only because of the bullets, there are also nice looking fresco’s of gold colored pharaoh’s and Indian women with expensive fabrics. Since 1999 Gropius Bau has great international art exhibitions. For example, the large exhibition on Frida Kahlo that showed a lot of her work were held at Gropius Bau .
You love art and history and are in Berlin right now. Or you are planning a visit to Berlin soon. But you have no idea where you can find all those interesting Berlin museums. We don’t blame you. If you only go to Museumsinsel it will take a whole day to see all the art inside. And Museumsinsel is not the only place in Berlin to be to find art and interesting history.
We will help you out with a short summary of all the museums we write about. Or just click on the photos of all the different museums and find all the info there on what museum you can find where and how, and what is inside.
When you stand in front of the Altes Museum on Museumsinsel you will feel like you are in Rome. The huge iconic columns look just like an impressive Roman temple. The Romans didn’t build Altes Museum, but inside you will discover the ancient world and artifacts created in the burning sun of Greece, Rome and Egypt.
The Alte Nationalgalerie at the Museumsinsel looks a lot like a Greek temple. You would not be surprised if a Greek beauty or even the uppergod Zeus would wander the premises of Alte Nationalgalerie. The gallery has prominent pillars and Greek statues surrounding the building. Inside there is no Greek art though, but romantic paintings and sculptures.
What should you do with a museum that is heavily hit by bombs? The people of Berlin had no idea for a very long time. During World War two Neues Museum didn’t look so new anymore. The walls were full of bullet holes. But now Neues Museum is renovated beautifully and inside you will see great ancient art like Egyptian beauty queen Nefertiti and heretic husband Akhenaten.
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.
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.
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.
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 of Roman and Byzantium times, combined with the great architecture make it worth the visit.
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.
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 in the cellars you can find the frivolous colors of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the kidlike art by Pablo Picasso, and the sad but colorful clowns of Max Beckman.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.