On 4 July the Neues Museum was officially declared a 'Historic Landmark of Civil Engineering in Germany'. The ceremony was held in the museum's 'Vaterländischer Saal', replete with its historical murals of Norse gods. The ceremony involved the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the outside of the building. The accolade from the Federal Chamber of Engineers pays tribute to the Neues Museum's outstanding significance in the history of German engineering.
The Neues Museum was designed by Friedrich August Stüler (1800-1865) and commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm IV. It took almost twenty years to build (with construction starting in 1841 and ending in 1859) and was erected on Berlin's 'Spreeinsel', now known as the Museum Island. With the Neues Museum, Stüler not only created a late icon of Neoclassicism. In realizing his designs, Stüler, a pupil of Schinkel, also used a multitude of construction methods that were hugely innovative at the time.
David Chipperfield's concept of 'complementary restoration' revived the intricately interwoven layers of construction. Once completed, the reconstruction evolved into a sensitive discourse on beauty, time, impermanence, and change - including that of technology. The modern architectural practice did not merely aim to restore the past as faithfully as possible, instead the exposed 'preserved specimens' of the original structure were incorporated into a new layer of reconstruction - forming, in Prof. Lorenz's words, 'a newly added sign of the constructive as part of the building's history'.
Volume 15 of the Federal Chamber of Engineers' series of publications on 'historic landmarks of engineering in Germany' is dedicated to the Neues Museum. In the brochure, Prof. Werner Lorenz pays tribute to the original structure of the 1840s as a 'seminal work of Prussian design during the age of industrialization'.
The brochure (in German) is available in bookstores or directly from the Federal Chamber of Engineers (Bundesingenieurkammer), priced 9.80, plus postage. The award series is funded and promoted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building, and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).