Museum Island

Museum Island is a unique ensemble of five museums on Spree Island in the district of Mitte in Berlin. The entire complex is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Berlin’s Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a unique ensemble of five museums, including the Pergamon Museum – built on a small island in Berlin’s Spree River between 1824 and 1930. A cultural and architectural monument of great significance, it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1999. Berlin’s own Acropolis of the arts is considered unique because it illustrates the evolution of modern museum design over the course of the 20th century and its collections span six thousand years of human artistic endeavour.

Museum Island was designed as a modern Forum Romanum

Its artefacts, originating largely from the private collections of the Prussian royal family, have been administered since 1918 by the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). The first museum, the Altes Museum (1830) considered to be Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s neoclassical masterpiece is Germany’s oldest museum. The development of the area as a museum complex and the construction of the other four museums stemmed from King Friedrich Wilhelm’s (1840-1861) romantic vision of a refuge of the arts and sciences similar to the Forum of ancient Rome. UNESCO defined it ‘an outstanding example of the Enlightenment vision of making art publicly accessible, given material form in a central urban setting”.

Full-scale renovation of the Museum Island underway since 1999

The Master Plan for the full-scale renovation and modernisation of the area, adopted and underway since 1999, aims to turn the site into a state-of-the-art cultural location. Amongst the planned additions are the architectural promenade linking the buildings, infrastructural developments including a new, central entrance building by British architect David Chipperfiled, with exhibition areas, cafés, and museum shops – the restoration of the Old National Gallery’s gardens to their former 1900 appearance and the fourth wing of the Pergamon Museum.

Museum Island is located on Spree Island where Berlin originated

Berlin’s owns Treasure Island is directly accessible on the left side of the German Historical Museum – opposite Berlin’s Staatsoper on Unter den Linden boulevard – only a short walk across the ornate, sculptured Schlossbrücke (Palace Bridge). The site is of topographical and historical interest as it is here, in the small Spreeinsel (Spree Island) that the city of Berlin originated as the twin 13th century settlements Berlin and Cölln.


Old and New Museum on Museum Island

Following Schinkel’s 1830s Altes Museum, Friedrich Wilhelm IV commissioned the Neues Museum in 1859 to house the Egyptian and prehistoric collections. Over 200 million Euros have been earmarked to renovate the museum, which displays the Egyptian Papyrus collection and the Library of Antiquity and Nefertiti in much reduced circumstances in a reflecting glass box.


Old National Gallery and Bode Museum on Museum Island

The Alte Nationalgalerie followed in 1876, built by Johann Heinrich Strack, Friedrich August Stüler’s successor, as an elevated temple of antiquity for 19th century German and European painting collections. It reopened in 2001, with works from Monet, Manet, Renoir and Caspar David Friedrich. The Baroque Bode Museum (1904), originally Kaiser Friedrich’s Museum for European Renaissance art was named after its first director, Wilhelm von Bode in 1956. Renowned for its sculpture collection and Museum of Byzantine Art, it finally reopened in 2006 after a five and a half years’ renovation.


Pergamon Museum on Museum Island

The most well-known of the complex, Alfred Mussel’s Pergamon Museum (1930) was built following the need for additional exhibit space to house the artefacts from the 19th century excavations of German archeologists in Pergamon and Asia Minor at a time when Heinrich Schliemann found Priam’s treasure. The Pergamon museum continues to attract one million visitors a year from all over the world to marvel at the Market Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar Gate. Due to extensive renovations, the Pergamon Altar hall is currently closed to visitors. It is scheduled to reopen in late 2019.

Museum Island Information:

Bodestraße 1-3
10178 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 / 266424242 (Mo-Fr 9 am – 4 pm)
Opening Hours: see single museums
Admission Fee: Combi-ticket Museum Island 18.00 Euro, reduced 9.00 Euro
Guided Tours: see single museums
Train (S-Bahn)

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