Museum buildings & collections

The Dahlem museums contain the Staatliche Museen’s collections of non-European art and culture, held at the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst. Both collections contain works spanning several millennia, and together they form the most important museum ensemble of this kind in the world, in terms of the sheer scope, quality, and variety of the collections’ holdings. In 2005 the Museum Europäischer Kulturen also took up permanent residency at the site. With its exhibitions featuring an array of objects taken from everyday material culture and the popular arts, it presents snapshots of the lived realities of the people of Europe and the things that have connected them from the 18th century up to the present.

The Dahlem museums are located in a spacious museum complex situated between Lansstrasse and Arnimallee that has a history much older than would initially seem. Well before the First World War, Wilhelm von Bode, eminent director-general of the Royal Museums (the precursor to today’s Staatliche Museen), envisaged the erection of a major museum centre for the non-European ethnological and Asian departments. The original designs by Bruno Paul, pioneering modernist architect, foresaw the rise of several spacious buildings assembled around cours d’honneur or grand entrance courts. Construction went ahead during the war, from 1914 to 1917, however only the bare shell of the oldest building in use today was completed. It was put into service in 1921 as the external storerooms for the then Museum für Völkerkunde, which was located in Stresemannstrasse beside the Martin-Gropius-Bau until the Second World War. The destruction of that building forced the museum to relocate to Dahlem.

After the war, the Museumsinsel in Berlin-Mitte found itself in the Soviet sector and Dahlem became an alternative site for a variety of cultural institutions traditionally found in the city centre, most famously the Freie Universität, which was established as an alternative to the Humboldt-Universität. As a result, the unfinished building in Dahlem served as the first location to house what remained of the Staatliche Museen’s collections in the western half of the city. The site at Dahlem was thus transformed into a museum complex. Fritz Bornemann’s and Wils Ebert’s expansions to the original building, constructed from 1964 to 1973, completed the ensemble.

Today, three of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s collections are housed under one roof in Dahlem. Bornemann came up with brilliant designs for the Ethnologisches Museum’s exhibition rooms – of which the section 'Pre-Columbian America' can still be seen today. Bornemann was also responsible for designing the Museum für Asiatische Kunst. Its current interior design is the work of Berlin-based architects Helge Sypereck, and was completed after major renovation work and the overall redesign of the exhibition layout.

The Museum Europäischer Kulturen moved into its new quarters in the Bruno-Paul-Bau in 2005.

Advance preparations for the transfer of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin's non-European collections to the new Humboldt Forum began in Dahlem in early January, when work starts on preparing some of the exhibits from the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the Ethnologisches Museum for refurbishment and transport to Berlin's historic city-centre. Because preparations for the transfer will require a lot of space and large areas will have to be cleared to allow items to be moved, the South-, Southeast- and Central Asian galleries of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the South-Sea and North-American galleries of the Ethnologisches Museum are no longer open to the public since 11 January 2016. The Ethnologisches Museum's Junior Museum are also closed since January 2016. The Museum Europäischer Kulturen is working on plans for using the building as a future new intergenerational museum space.

U-Bahn U3 (Dahlem-Dorf)
Bus M11, X83 (U Dahlem-Dorf); 101 (Limonenstraße); 110 (Domäne Dahlem)

Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 266424242 (Mo - Fr 9 am - 4 pm)
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 266422290

Ethnolgisches Museum
Postal address:
Arnimallee 27
14195 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 83 01 273
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 8301500

Director: Prof. Dr. Viola König
Deputy Director: Dr. Richard Haas

Museum Europäischer Kulturen
Postal address:
Im Winkel 8
14195 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 266426802
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 266 42 6804

Director: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Tietmeyer
Deputy director: Drs. Léontine Meijer-van Mensch

Museum für Asiatische Kunst

Postal address:
Takustraße 40
14195 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 8301382
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 8301501

Director: Prof. Dr. Klaas Ruitenbeek
Deputy Directors: Dr. Herbert Butz, Raffael D. Gadebusch

Café and restaurant 'eßkultur' at the Museen Dahlem
Mrs. Claus
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 8301433

Bookshop Walther König
Mrs. Heilmann
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 83203581