Old museum

Who I am
J. Renx

berlin.de dw.com thelocal.de bbc.co.uk

Author and references

THEOld museum is one of the museums of the Museumsinsel. After the restoration of the years 2010 and 2011, the museum houses the Antikensammlung (collections of antiquities) of the Berlin State Museums.

The museum building was built between 1823 and 1830 by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in a neoclassical style to house the art collection of the Prussian royal family. Until 1845, it was in fact known as Royal Museum (Royal Museum). Along with the other museums and historic buildings on Museum Island, the Altes Museum was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.

The Altes Museum is one of the most important neoclassical buildings in Berlin. On the facade they find a place 18 Ionic columns, while inside there are two large rectangular courtyards and a two-storey circular room, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, inside which there are sculptures of ancient gods. Two statues flank the external staircase, works by August Kiss and Albert Wolff.

Design and location

In the early XNUMXth century, the German bourgeoisie had grown stronger and stronger. This growing class began to embrace new ideas about the importance of art to the people. The concept was simple: art had to be open to everyone.

He re Frederick William III of Prussia he was a strong supporter of this art education policy and commissioned Karl Friedrich Schinkel to design a public museum for the royal art collection. Schinkel's idea was to incorporate the K枚nigliches Museum into a set of buildings, which surround the Berliner Lustgarten (pleasure garden):

  • Lo Stadtschloss to the south it was a symbol of worldly power.
  • Lo Armory to the west it represented military might.
  • Il Berliner Dom to the east was the representation of divine authority.
  • Il museum north of the garden, created precisely for the education of the people, stood as a symbol of science and art.

The new name is 1900

In 1845 the museum was renamed Old museum, when an artistic commission, commissioned by the king, having to give a new conception to the museum, opted to dedicate the museum exhibition only to art, thus excluding all the ethnographic collections, the prehistoric finds and the treasures of the East.

During National Socialism, the Altes Museum was used as a backdrop for propaganda: some activities in fact took place right inside the building. Shortly before the end of World War II it was badly damaged when a tank truck exploded in front. Under managing director Ludwig Justi, the building was the first museum on the Museumsinsel to be restored.


The Altes Museum was originally built to house all the fine arts collections of the city of Berlin. However, since 1904 the museum has housed theAntikensammlung, the collection of classical antiquities. Since 1998 this collection has expanded, making it possible for the public to admire works from the ancient Greek era: the main find is a bronze sculpture from Rhodes dating back to 300 BC, called "The boy who prays".

Inside this wing of the museum you can also admire one of the collections of Greek vases richest in the world, including an amphora by the so-called "Berlin painter鈥滱nd a bowl dating back to 515 BC painted by the Athenian artist Euphronius.

Note: mostly, the ancient objects exhibited at theOld museum they are small in size, as the larger ones have been moved to the Pergamon Museum.


The museum also houses part of the numismatic collection Munzkabinett, which showcases over 1000 coins ranging from the XNUMXth century BC to the XNUMXrd century AD. The rest of the Munzkabinett collection is housed in the Bodemuseum.

Etruscan and Roman collections

On the upper floor of the Altes Museum are the Etruscan and Roman collections. The Etruscan collection is one of the largest in the world that can be found outside Italy, and showcases objects dating back to the eighth century BC, such as limestone urns from Chiusi and a clay tablet from Capua.

Of course, many are exhibited in this wing of the museum Roman statues, but a very particular and interesting section is the one dedicated toerotic art, where you can admire quite explicit paintings, as well as bas-reliefs and sculptures. This area of 鈥嬧媡he museum is located behind a closed door, and the entrance is reserved for adults.

Useful Information

The museum is open from 10.00 in the morning until 18.00, from Tuesday to Sunday. Like all the museums on the island, Thursdays are open until 20.00. On the official website you can find all the information to plan the visit.

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