Monday, December 3, 2012

While Calli Was on Her Photo Tour...

As Calli was heading off for the day to explore a scary, abandoned TB clinic with a group of crazy German photographers, I thought that I would make the most of my free time and visit some of Berlin's world-renowned museums. For just 14 Euro (including free audio/visual guide), I picked up a pass for all the museums on Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after a quick bagel I was on my way.

A chilly Berlin morning - perfect for exploring some museums

Museum Island is a small island (who would've guessed) in the middle of the Spree. It houses 5 of Berlin's most important museums, as well as the Berliner Dom, the Lustgarten, and a number of other important buildings and attractions. 

The Berliner Dom

My first stop also happened to be the one I was most excited about - the Pergamon Museum. Named for the Pergamon Altar that is housed within, the museum contains a number of fantastic treasures mainly from the Middle and Near East. In addition to the overwhelmingly large Pergamon Altar, the museum also houses the Market gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, a reconstructed neo-Assyrian Palace, and a merchant's house from Aleppo. 

The Pergamon Altar (via)

The Market Gate of Miletus (via)

Glazed terracotta tile details on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon

Ornamentation found at the Market Gate of Miletus

My second stop was the Alte Nationalgalerie (the Old National Gallery), which contains an excellent collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, and Impressionist Art. Although heavily damaged during Allied air raids, the building has since been beautifully restored. The main focus is on German painters like Adolph Menzel and Caspar David Friedrich, but a number of works by European masters like John Constable and Auguste Renoir are also part of the collection. In addition to the paintings, a number of amazing sculptures adorn the halls. Although not as extensive or amazing as the Prado or Uffizi, it is a great collection and very nicely displayed.

The reconstructed facade of the Alte Nationalgalerie

The Abbey in the Oakwood - Caspar David Friedrich (via)

Prinzessinnengruppe - Johann Gottfried Schadow

My third stop of the day was set in stone from the beginning. The Neues (New) Museum is the only one that requires a reservation, which I made when I bought my ticket in the morning. Just after noon I made my way into the museum, which houses an extensive collection of Egyptian and prehistoric treasures, including the famed Bust of Nefertiti. Although heavily bombed during WWII, the museum has been masterfully restored by David Chipperfield, and still retains the "entering into an Egyptian Temple" feel that was intended for it. 

A painting of the initial Egyptian Temple exhibit (via)

Stone tablets from Ancient Egypt

Praying statue of King Amenemhet II (circa 1800BC)

The famed Bust of Nefertiti (via)

Fourth on the docket for the day was the Bode Museum, and its collection of Byzantine art, sculpture, coins, and medals. The building itself survived fairly intact, a rarity in the area. While not as visited as the others, it deserves a look for its great collection of sculptures and art from Byzantium and Ravenna, as well as the controversial bust of Flora (originally, and perhaps mistakenly, attributed to da Vinci).

The facade of the Bode Museum (via)

Main atrium at the entrance to the Bode Museum (via)

Although I was tired and my feet were screaming at me to stop, I figured I might as well finish up with the final of the 5 museums - the Altes Museum. Probably the most architecturally amazing building, the exterior is modeled after the Stoa of Attalos in Athens (which we visited) and the interior contains an exact replica of the hemispheric dome of the Pantheon in Rome. It holds an extensive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.

The exterior facade of the Altes Museum

The rotunda gallery with Greek sculptures (via)

Even today, the collections of the museums are being reorganized, and even added to as once-lost bunkers full of amazing treasures are being rediscovered.The museums are all worth a visit (although maybe all 5 in one day is a bit too much), and cover topics that would appeal to everyone.

By Travis Huyghebaert with No comments


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Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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