Berlin Museums: a wealth of options for all types of interests.
Visiting one or more museums in Berlin during your stay in the German capital is certainly recommended. Visiting the museums of Berlin can be one of your main activities or an excellent Plan B if the weather isn’t favorable for outdoor visits.
Visiting museums during your stay in a foreign city is one of the favorite activities of many travelers, and Berlin is simply paradise for those who come with the intention of visiting museums and discovering its most famous monuments.
The range of museums in Berlin is extraordinary. The museums of Berlin contain treasures that will literally leave you speechless. The German capital has museums of all kinds and for all tastes and is home to more than 260 in total. If you are interested in history, archeology, the art of a wide variety of historical periods, the ancient aspects of daily life, or specialized museums, you will be able to spend entire weeks in Berlin. A few days’ visit will probably be too short.
If you arrive in Berlin without a clear idea of what museums there are, you risk being overwhelmed by the huge variety that the city has to offer. In this article we present a selection of the most famous museums in Berlin, organized by theme; consider it a general suggestion that focuses predominantly on the most visited museums as well as some lesser known ones that we consider particularly interesting.
MUSEUMS OF BERLIN: ARCHEOLOGY AND CULTURE
Pergamon Museum: this museum is the most famous and most visited in Berlin. It is located on Museum Island and contains priceless treasures of the Assyrian-Babylonian, classical, and Islamic world. It was the last of the six museums built on the Island and was inaugurated in 1930. It was conceived to house monumental constructions of the ancient world, reconstructed in their original size. The most famous works of the Pergamon museum are:
– The Altar of Pergamon: a large altar from the Hellenistic period in honor of Zeus.
– The Ishtar Gate: one of the gates of the mythical city of Babylon.
– The market gate of Miletus: the Roman-era gateway to the city market.
– The Aleppo Room: the interior decoration of the house of a Syrian merchant from the 1600s.
– The Mshatta Facade: a magnificent example of Islamic architecture.
New Museum: the New Museum (Neues Museum) is the second most visited museum in Berlin and is located on Museum Island right next to the Pergamon Museum.
The New Museum houses the Egyptian collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Ancient History, and the finds of the great German archaeologists of the 1800s, including the famous discoverer of the remains of the city of Troy, Heinrich Schliemann. The most famous works are:
– The Bust of Nefertiti
– The Berlin Gold Hat
Humboldt Forum Museum: the Ethnological and Asian Art Museum. This museum fascinates visitors with its collections of archeology and Aztec, Mayan, Inca, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese art.
MUSEUMS OF BERLIN: ART
The Ancient National Gallery: this is one of the museums of the Museum Island complex. Among the exhibited works the collections of German Romanticism stand out in particular, with the excellent paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, the best portraitist of the German spirit. Also exhibited are works of French Impressionism, with paintings by Manet and Monet. An interesting fact: the Ancient National Gallery was the first European museum to buy works by impressionist painters.
The New National Gallery: this museum displays the collection of classical modernity. Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, and Andy Warhol.
The Gemäldegalerie: Berlin has a beautiful collection of paintings from the 13th to the 19th century. The collection includes works by Giotto, Raphael, Titian, Jan van Eyck, and Pieter Bruegel, as well as works by Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Hans Holbein.
The Hamburger Bahnhof: this is the contemporary art museum in Berlin. The fantastic collection on display ranges from Warhol and Lichtenstein’s Pop Art to installations by artists such as Beuys and Ai WeiWei.
The Berggruen Museum: this little-known museum in Berlin exhibits works by early 20th century artists such as Picasso, Giacometti, Klee, and much more. It is located opposite the Charlottenburg Palace and the best way to reach it is from the “Richard-Wagner-Platz” underground station or from the M45 bus stop “Schloss Charlottenburg”.
The Brücke Museum: the largest collection of German expressionism. A fantastic museum that brings you closer to something you won’t find in other European capitals. The works of Kirchner and Nolde stand out in particular.
The Villa Liebermann: a beautiful villa on Lake Wannsee that houses the collection of works by the impressionist painter Max Liebermann.
MUSEUMS OF BERLIN: HISTORY
German History Museum: a very well presented and documented museum that tells the story of this region of Europe, which today is called Germany, from Roman times to the present.
Jewish Museum: a museum that, in addition to a very interesting collection on the Jewish presence in Berlin throughout its history, has a building designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, which in itself is one of the great attractions of Berlin.
City Museum: the Stadtmuseum is less famous than other national museums but is an ideal museum to learn about historic and present day Berlin. Its collection is exhibited in several buildings in the center, with the main site at the Märkisches Museum or Regional Museum, a very interesting historic building just a few steps from Museum Island.
Daily life in the GDR: this exhibition is located in the Kulturbrauerei of the Prenzlauer Berg district and belongs to the German History Museum and is definitely worth a visit.
MUSEUMS OF BERLIN: OTHER MUSEUMS
Museum of Musical Instruments: a first-class suggestion for music lovers. This museum houses a fabulous collectionof European musical instruments from the last 500 years.
Cinema Museum: Berlin was one of the cradles of cinema and in the 1920s it was the European capital with the most cinema production. The stories of the great names of silent cinema, as well as people like Marlene Dietrich are told in this excellent museum located in the Sony Center.
Technical Museum: Germans are often associated with technology, and the Berlin Museum of Technology explains why. It houses a collection of trains, cars, and boats, a replica of the first computer in history built here in Berlin, and very interesting sections on telecommunications and textile production. It is ideal for families with children.
Natural History Museum: Berlin has a brilliant natural science museum where you can admire everything from the skeleton of the largest dinosaur in the world to a collection of extinct animals. This museum is run by a man married to a descendant of Charles Darwin and is one of the landmarks of Berlin’s museums. It is ideal for families with children.
DOCUMENTATION AND MEMORIAL CENTERS IN BERLIN
Topography of Terror: exhibition of photographs and documents on the Gestapo and on the SS, the two most important repressive institutions of the Nazis, exactly in the place where their headquarters stood.
Documentation Center of the German Resistance: photographs, documents and stories of those who opposed the Nazis in Germany.
Sachsenhausen Memorial: area of the former concentration camp north of Berlin.
Memorial of Hohenschönhausen (Stasi): the headquarters of the repressive apparatus of East Germany and the nearby prison are today places where one can learn about the operations of the STASI, the secret police of the communist regime.
Bernauer Straße Berlin Wall Memorial: central place of documentation and memorial of the Berlin Wall.
Holocaust Memorial: documentation center with information on personal stories with photographs, letters, and documents of Holocaust victims. It is located under the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Karlshorst Museum: the German capitulation of 1945 took place in this building. In the museum, located on the eastern outskirts of Berlin, you can visit an exhibition conceived in collaboration between Russia and Germany with the aim of preserving the shared memory of the monstrosities of war.