Today’s Thursday, and you know what that means: free museums! (And let me say right off the bat: Yes, this is another one of those museum posts, but it’s hands-down the best museum I’ve seen in Berlin — or anywhere else in years — so bear with me. It’s worth it.) Today after work I finally checked out the Neues Museum, which means New Museum, which is something of a misnomer, since it’s a museum of the ancient world, and it was initially constructed in the 19th century.
I say initially because it was badly damaged in the Second World War and remained closed until last year. Its reopening was heralded for the genius of the English architect David Chipperfield,* who synthesized ancient artifacts, 19th-century craftwork, and modern construction to great effect. Indeed, people here in Berlin told me I had to see the museum for the architecture, which, they said, was more impressive than the collection itself.
The architecture is fantastic — no argument there. Here are a few shots of what you see as you walk through:
So yeah, the building is pretty impeccable. But the collection, I’d argue, is at least as impressive.
Let’s start in ancient Egypt:
And speaking of Nefertiti…. The most famous item in the collection is a bust of her. And it’s pretty magical — it’s got a whole room to itself, and she’s got a kind of a Mona Lisa-like magnetism to her. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in the room, so you’ll have to make do with this.
But let’s move on from Egypt. There’s also a good collection of Roman artifacts:
Moving forward in time, this depicts various scenes from the Bible:
And this coin, along with a handful like it, is the only existing likeness of Charlemagne:
But yeah, let’s jump back in time again. Waaaay back.
And, finally, one of the more mysterious objects to me in the musuem:
Bottom line: If you’re in Berlin and have time to see just one museum, this is it. Seriously. It blows the (much more famous) Pergamon out of the water.
Alright, I’m off to Holland. Catch you on the flip side.