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Berlin’s museum scene: Still life in motion

BodeMuseumBode Museum

Together with Munich and Dresden, Berlin is one of the largest museum areas in Germany. Here there are more museums and collections than rainy days in a year; in total more than 175. With the open­ing – or rather, re-opening after renovation – of 27 museums in the last 10 years, the capital is establishing itself as one of the most important cultur­al centers in Europe. And the program has not finished; the best example is the unique museum island in the center of Berlin, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. Here, in just one square kilometer, visitors can experience 6,000 years of human history with highlights such as the Pergamon Altar and busts of Nefertiti. After the re-opening of the Bode Museum in October 2006, you can currently visit 4 of the 5 historical buildings on the island. The Neues Museum is scheduled to be open to the public from 2009. The number of visitors is already at 2 million per year; by the end of the general renovation program in 2015, it is hoped that this figure will increase significantly.

A more modern form of culture is available on Potsdamer Platz. Here the attractions include the Museum of Prints and the New National Gallery for 20th Century Art. The most important building for modern art is the Hamburger Bahnhofin the immediate vicinity of the main station. These museums are grouped together as the National Museums of Berlin, which comprises 23 institutions.

In addition, there is the Berlin Stadtmuseum (City Museum) with 13 collections as well as many private institutions. These include the Film and TV Museum in the Sony Center, whose brand-new TV department demonstrates the development of television history in East and West Germany (open since June 2006).

Of course, the subject of the partition of Germany is of particular importance in Berlin; whether in the Mauermuseum (Wall Museum) at the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing point, or in the new DDR Museum (GDR Museum) on the Liebknecht Bridge. But you can also discover the usual and curious, for example, the Beate Uhse Erotica Museum and the Hemp Museum. Even children will not get bored in spite of the number of museums; for them, there is the Labyrinth Children’s Museum, where they are encouraged to try things out. So, it’s not only on rainy days that the Berlin museum scene has something to offer; other than Mondays, however, when apart from a few exceptions, the museums are closed.


DDR_Museum_pressefoto19DDR Museum Berlin Filmuseum_PotsdamFilmmuseum Potsdam Pergamon_MuseumPergamonmuseum, Das Panorama (Museumsinsel), © NEW IN THE CITY


Overview of Berlin’s museums

Film Museum island Kulturforum Curiosity Planetaria
History Kids Art & culture
Nature Technology


Filmmuseum Potsdam
This film museum houses an exciting permanent exhibition called Babelsberg – Faces of a Movie City as well as a family exhibition, many historic technical devices and changing exhibitions about movies. Visitors can also watch rare classic films, usually in the original language, for a small charge and without adverts in the museum’s cinema. A must for any movie lover.
›› 14467 Potsdam, Breite Str. 1a, Tel. 03 31/27 18 10

Museum für Film & Fernsehen
Here you’ll experience a voyage through the history of German movies, from pioneer films to Marlene Diet­rich to current movies. The museum’s attractions were enriched by the addition of the first German television museum, which shows magic moments and developments in TV history in East and West Germany.
›› Tiergarten, Potsdamer Str. 2, im Filmhaus (Sony Center)
Tel. 3 00 90 30,

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Historical museums

Alliierten Museum
Sonderausstellungen_This museum tells the exciting story of the Western powers in Berlin between 1945 and 1994. Special exhibitions change every year.
›› Zehlendorf, Clayallee 135, Tel. 8 18 19 90

Photos, documents and objects from World Wars 1 and 2 and modern weapons displays, plus an air raid shelter equipped with many original items and art exhibits in the Peace Gallery.
›› Wedding, Brüsseler Str. 21, Tel. 45 49 01 10

Centrum Judaicum
This museum highlights the story of Berlin’s New Synagogue as well as of Jews in Berlin and the surrounding region.
›› Mitte, Oranienburger Str. 28/30, Tel. 88 02 83 00

A museum devoted to the former East Germany’s history and a highlight of Berlin’s museum scene, not just because of its central location on the Spree opposite the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral). All facets of daily culture, living and growing up in East Germany come to life in interactive exhibits. You can experience a simulated ride in a Trabi car through a residential development of prefabricated concrete buildings (typical of East Germany) or rummage through the drawers of a Carat cupboard.
›› Mitte, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, Spreepromenade an
der Liebknechtbrücke, Tel. 8 47 12 37 31

Deutsches Historisches Museum
Permanent Deutsche Geschichte in Bildern und Zeugnissen (German history in pictures and objects) exhibition in the Zeughaus. Changing exhibitions in the Pei wing (completed 2004), which was designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei.
›› Mitte, Unter den Linden 2, Tel. 20 30 4-0

Historischer Hafen Berlin
Before World War II, Berlin had the largest inland port in Germany. In the Historischer Hafen (Historic Port), over 20 antique ships can be seen including operating steam tugboats. From May to October there is an exhibition about the history of inland navigation on board the Renate Angelika.
›› Mitte, Märkisches Ufer, Tel. 21 47 32 57

Jüdisches Museum Berlin
Voyage of discovery through 2 millennia of German-Jewish history, changing exhibitions related to cultural history, contemporary art exhibitions, multimedia presentations in the Rafael Roth Learning Center.
›› Kreuzberg, Lindenstr. 9-14, Tel. 25 99 33 00

Märkisches Museum
The red-brick tower heralds the museum building complex from a distance; extensive cultural-historical collection of traces of prehistoric settlements up to the turn of the century. Exhibits include the Gothic Chapel, a guild hall and the weapons room.
›› Mitte, Am Köllnischen Park 5, Tel. 30 86 62 15

Mauermuseum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between West and East Berlin. This museum showcases not only the history of both parts of Berlin, but also spectacular escape methods such as hot-air balloons or a mini submarine.
›› Kreuzberg, Friedrichstr. 43-45, Tel. 2 53 72 50

Museum Mitte von Berlin
The local heritage museums in the Palais am Festungsgraben and at Gesund­brunnen are dedicated to the story of the historical core of the city.
›› Mitte, Am Fes­tungsgraben 1, Tel. 2 08 40 00 & Pank Str. 47, Tel. 4 60 60 19-0

Museumsdorf Düppel
On 16 hectares, you can experience a village and its surroundings as they existed 800 years ago. Reverse-bred pets and long-forgotten useful plants play as much a role here as the practice of ancient handiwork.
›› Zehlendorf, Clauert Str. 11, Tel. 8 02 66 99

The Kennedys
“I am a Berliner” – these famous words were spoken by the former American president John F. Kennedy in 1963, just a few steps from the Kennedy Museum. Exactly the right location for the Camera Work Gallery collec­tion, one of the most extensive collections of photographs, official documents, and private papers of the Kennedy family in the world.
›› Mitte, Pariser Platz 4a, Tel. 20 65 35 70

The Story of Berlin
This interesting exhibition, featuring a genuine nuclear fallout shelter and 23 theme rooms equipped with modern exhibition features, shows the history of Berlin. Search-and-find game for kids, hourly tour through the bunker in German and English.
›› Charlottenburg, Kurfürstendamm 206, Tel. 88 72 01 00

Topographie des Terrors
In the excavations along Niederkirchner Street, the open-air exhibition shows the history of the focal point of Nazi terror and of the crimes committed by the Nazis.
›› Mitte, Niederkirchnerstr. 8, Tel. 25 45 09-0

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Museum Island

Alte Nationalgalerie
125 years after its first opening, the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) reopened after a complete renovation in 2001. Its exhibits range from Caspar David Friedrich to Paul Cézanne to Max Beckmann’s early work.
›› Mitte, Bode Str. 1-3, Tel. 20 90 55 77

Altes Museum
This neo-classical building designed by Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel with landmark columns houses one of the largest collections of classical art.
›› Mitte, Am Kupfergraben, Tel. 20 90 55 44

This was formerly the Kaiser Friedrich Museum. It reopened in 2006 after extensive renovation and provides a single home for a sculpture collection, Byzantine art museum and a coin collection. It also includes items from the painting gallery and so implements Wilhelm von Bode’s concept of “quiet rooms.”
›› Mitte, Monbijoubrücke, Tel. 20 90 55 77

Neues Museum
Well-known British architect David Chipperfield restored this temple of culture to its former glory. It houses an Egyptian Museum with a papyrus collection, a pre- and early history museum as well as selected exhibits from the state antique collection. Famous exhibits such as a bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti or the collection of items from ancient Troy dug up by the archeologist Heinrich Schliemann highlight early human history in an impressive way.
›› Mitte, Am Kupfergraben, Tel. 20 90 55 77

In addition to the Altes Museum, the Pergamon Museum also exhibits items from the large state collection of classical art. The highlight is the Pergamon altar, a showpiece example of Hellenistic art that shows the battle of the gods against the giants. There is also the Museum for Islamic art and the Museum of the Ancient Near East.
›› Mitte, Am Kupfergraben 5, Tel. 20 90 55 77

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Museums for kids

Labyrinth Kindermuseum
One of Germany’s largest and most-visited children’s museums, for kids between 4 and 12 and their parents. With exhibitions that change every year according to the “learn­ing by doing” principle.
›› Wedding, Osloer Str. 12, Tel. 800 93 11-50

MACHmit! Museum für Kinder
Two exhibition floors, plus a tower, provide space for the 3 permanent displays – a museum print shop, a soap store from the 1920s and “mirror worlds” as well as 2 to 3 interdisciplinary, interactive changing exhibitions per year. Displays are in German and English.
›› Prenzlauer Berg, Senefelder Str. 5, Tel. 74 77 82 00

Puppentheater Museum
Hand puppets, muppets, marionettes, shadow play puppets, metamorphoses, flat puppets and trick puppets from Europe, Africa and Asia. Puppet theater performances for kids and evening shows for adults, guided tours and workshops for kids, children’s birthday parties.
›› Neukölln, Karl-Marx-Str. 135, Tel. 6 87 81 32

Sammlung Kindheit und Jugend
Extensive illustrative material about childhood, from birth to full legal age, with an emphasis on German and Berlin school history, historical toys and a scriptorium where writing using quills and ink can be practised.
›› Mitte, Wallstr. 32, Tel. 2 75 03 83

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Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz

One of the world’s most important collections for European painting of the 13th - 18th centuries. Works from every epoch, e.g. Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer. The museum focuses on German and Italian painting from the 13th century to 16th century and on Dutch painting in the 15th and 16th centuries.
›› Tiergarten, Matthäi­kirchplatz 4/6, Tel. 266 42 42 42

Oldest museum of its kind in Germany. European craft work of all post-Classical stylistic periods in art history, e.g. Meißen porcelain and over 40 works from the Welfenschatz sacred relics of Brunswick Cathedral.
›› Tiergarten, Herbert-von-Karajan-Str. 10, Tel. 266 42 42 42

Largest graphics collection in Germany. More than 500,000 printed graphic works and about 110,000 illustrations, watercolors, pastels and oil sketches by artists such as Botticelli, Picasso and Warhol. Due to the fragility of the paper, there is no permanent exhibition, but rather periodically changing ones.
›› Tiergarten, Matthäikirchplatz 8, Tel. 266 42 42 42

Musical instruments of the European music arts from the 16th century to the 21th century. About 800 instruments, many of them playable, are on display.
›› Tiergarten, Tiergarten Str. 1, Tel. 25 48 10

Neue Nationalgalerie
This “light temple of glass” from star architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is one of the most breathtaking museum designs in Berlin. It houses European paintings and sculptures of the 20th century, from the classical modern to 1960s art, including works by artists such as Klee, Munch and Kokoschka. The museum is often used for special exhibits.
›› Tiergarten, Potsdamer Str. 50, Tel. 266 42 42 42

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Museums for art & culture

Berlinische Galerie
This converted industrial hall contains one of the museums in Berlin that is most open to experimental concepts – the Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur (State Museum for Modern Art, Photography and Architecture). On display is Berlin art from 1870 to the contemporary scene.
›› Kreuzberg, Alte Jakob Str. 124-128, Tel. 78 90 26 00

Brücke Museum
This museum is dedicated to a well-known group of German expressionist artists called Die Brücke. Opened in 1967, the collection and changing exhibitions are among the greatest collections of the group. Through the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rotluff and Erich Heckel, visitors can learn about the main features of the foundation period such as the theme of man in unity and harmony, which was used in many works.
›› Dahlem, Bussardsteig 9, Tel. 831 20 29

Dalí - die Ausstellung
This is a cultural highlight for Berlin residents and art lovers from all over the world, directly at Potsdamer Platz. It has a museum-quality permanent exhibition over 1,500 sq m with more than 450 exhibits from international private collections. Drawings, sculptures, graphics, illustrations and 3-D art installations impressively show the spectrum of the creations of this master of surrealism. Visitors can also browse through postcards, books and posters in the museum shop, and take refreshments in the café.
›› Mitte, Leipziger Platz 7, Tel. 0700/32 54 68 73

Deutsche Guggenheim
Joint venture by Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The ground floor of Deutsche Bank’s sandstone building provides space for three or four high-caliber exhibitions per year.
›› Mitte, Unter den Linden 13/15, Tel. 2 02 09 30

Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart
In this centrally located 13,000 sq m museum, you’ll find modern art. The historic rooms with their unusual heights and extensions with geometrically clear outlines and luminous ceilings provide the ideal framework for presenting modern art from Andy Warhol to Joseph Beuys. There are also highlights of the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection on display.
›› Moabit, Invaliden Str. 50-51, Tel. 39 78 34 11

Haus der Kulturen der Welt
The museum crosses borders in the most literal sense, bringing visual arts, dance, theater, music, literature, film and media from cultures beyond Europe to Berlin. The focus lies on the contemporary arts and current developments in the cultures of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
›› Tiergarten, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
Tel. 39 78 70,

About 250 original works of the Berlin expressionist printmaker and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz stretch over four floors in a Late Classical palace. Special exhibitions that portray her milieu take place twice a year.
›› Charlottenburg, Fasanen Str. 24, Tel. 8 82 52 10

Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee
If you take a trip to Wannsee lake, it’s worth having a look at the villa of the Berlin painter Max Liebermann. On the upper level of the house, which is in an idyllic location with a large garden, a collection of paintings, pastels, and graphics by the famous impressionist is displayed. The lower level contains a documentary exhibition on the life of the Liebermann family and the changing fortunes of the house.
›› Wannsee, Colomier Str. 3, Tel. 80 58 59 00

Martin Gropius Bau
A Berlin exhibition center that’s famous throughout the world. Temporary exhibitions from a wide range of genres, such as photography, art and archaeology, are shown here. In addition, there’s a large bookstore and a restaurant/café.
›› Kreuzberg, Niederkirchner Str. 7, Tel. 25 48 60

Museum Berggruen
Across from the Charlottenburg Castle, in the Stüler­bau, you can admire outstanding treasures of classic modern art. The collection emphasizes the works of Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee.
›› Charlottenburg, Schloss Str. 1, Tel. 266 42 42 42

Museum Europäischer Kulturen
With about 270,000 items, this is one of the world’s largest collections of European ethnographies and cultural history, with an emphasis on European day-to-day life from the 18th century to the present. A visit is especially worthwhile during the pre-Christmas season due to the mechanical mountain from the Erz Mountains and the European Christmas fair. Note: The museum will likely be renovated until autumn 2011 and will be closed until then.
›› Dahlem, Museen Dahlem, Arnimallee 25
Tel. 8 30 14 38,

Museum für Fotografie/ Helmut Newton Stiftung
Since February 2009, light has been shed on every aspect of 19th to 21st century photography in the renovated “Kaisersaal.” A permanent exhibition from the Helmut Newton foundation shows cameras, a photo and art collection, posters and many works by the famous photographer. Also special exhibitions.
›› Charlottenburg, Jebens Str. 2, Tel. 266 42 42 42

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Curiosity museums

Beathe Uhse Erotik-Museum  
This museum, which opened on the Beate Uhse company’s 50th anniversary, invites you on a journey through 2,000 years of erotica, love and sexuality with the help of over 5,000 exhibits, such as illustrations, paintings, figures and photographs.
›› Charlottenburg, Joachimstaler Str. 4, Tel. 8 86 06 66

Currywurst Museum
In the Currywurst Museum’s entertaining exhibition, visitors discover not only everything to do with this cult snack, such as its history or its very special ingredients and spices, but can also play the role of a kiosk owner. It’s fun for all the family. Afterwards, a visit to the museum snack bar is a must because there you can enjoy a Berlin Currywurst (sausage with curry sauce) here.
›› Mitte, Schützen Str. 70, Tel. 88 71 86 47

This museum, in a former air-raid shelter near the Anhalter Bahnhof S-Bahn station is not for those with weak nerves! On the top floor, there’s a chamber of horrors with scary effects and action. The ground floor contains spectacular medical scenes from ancient times, and the basement documents the history of this and other bunkers.
›› Kreuzberg, Schöneberger Str. 23a, Tel. 26 55 55 46

Museum der Unerhörten Dinge
You’ll say “That’s something!” when you see what Roland Albrecht has gathered in his unconventional museum: screws from an airplane crash, the proverbial “central thread” and red wine that is white are just a few of these.
›› Schöneberg, Crelle Str. 5-6, Tel. 7 81 49 32

Schwules Museum
In addition to several exhibitions every year about gay life, there’s a permanent exhibition on gay history covering different eras and social conditions, numerous biographies as well as day-to-day gay life and culture.
›› Kreuzberg, Mehringdamm 61, Tel. 69 59 90 50

The museum, which is next to the Olympiazentrum (Olympic Center), contains extensive items from the sports history of German and Berlin-Brandenburg as well as a collection of the history of workers’ and East German sports as well as the AIMS Marathon Museum of Running. These are shown in changing special exhibitions.
›› Westend, Hanns-Braun-Str., Tel. 3 05 83 00

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Museums of nature study

Botanisches Museum
This museum is the only one of its kind in central Europe, serving as a supplement to the Botanical Gardens. It has many artificial exhibits that show what you cannot see with the naked eye in the Gardens or you can only see for a few days or weeks in the year.
›› Dahlem, Königin-Luise-Str. 6-8, Tel. 83 85 01 00

Hanf Museum
Over 250 sq m, Germany’s only hemp museum provides extensive information about the herb that is more than just a drug. You can learn interesting facts about its cultivation, possibilities for use in manufacturing textiles and paper and its significance in various cultures.
›› Mitte, Mühlendamm 5, Tel. 2 42 48 27

Museum für Naturkunde
One of the few museums in the world whose collections hold much more than 25 million objects, including the unusually well-preserved fossil of the Archaeopteryx ancestral bird, the tallest erected dinosaur skeleton of Brachiosaurus brancai, the largest piece of amber yet found and meteorites from Mars.
›› Mitte, Invaliden Str. 43, Tel. 20 93 85 40

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Wilhelm-Förster Sternwarte mit Planetarium
Observatory and domed planetarium with 300 seats, multi-vision and laser shows, special presentations for children, lectures, library with 24,000 books and other publications on astronomy.
›› Steglitz, Muns­terdamm 90 (am Insulaner)
Tel. 7 90 09 30,

Visitors can gaze in wonder at an artificial – but always cloud-free – starry sky with slide show, laser and video projections. Changing events with music and laser show effects as well as music and audio plays under the night sky. Exhibitions in the foyer.
›› Prenzlauer Berg, Prenzlauer Allee 80
Tel. 42 18 45 12,

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Science & technology

Berliner Medizin-historisches Museum
On the grounds of the Charité hospital, the museum’s permanent exhibition shows a collection of about 1,000 pathologic/anatomic specimens as well as instruments, models, books and illustrations showing the history of ophthalmology, dentistry and urology. Regular special exhibitions with current applications.
›› Mitte, Campus Charité Mitte, Charitéplatz 1
Tel. 4 50 53 61 56,

Berliner U-Bahn-Museum
The electromechanical signal box and lever set that was used for the Olympia-Stadion subway station is the highlight of this museum. There are 4-6 special trips each year on historic trains.
›› Westend, Rossitter Platz 1, Tel. 36 41 87 37

Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin
Try it out! In the Technical Museum’s buildings, visitors can find historical locomotive sheds, the vintage transport depot "Mensch in Fahrt", an exhibition about inland and ocean shipping, computers, radios, cameras, diesel engines, printing presses and looms.
›› Kreuzberg, Trebbiner Str. 9, Tel. 90 25 40

Museum für Kommunikation
A place for encounters, exchanges and entertainment. Lots of interactive stations introduce visitors to the central questions in the history of communication. The museum’s treasury showcases valuable exhibits, above all the Blue Mauritius.
›› Mitte, Leipziger Str. 16, Tel. 20 29 40

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