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The beginnings of the Münzkabinett (Numismatic Collection) date back to the art collection of the Electors of Brandenburg. In 1649 there were already about 5,000 items, mainly ancient coins. In 1830 the Numismatic Collection moved for the first time into its own rooms at the Altes Museum where it could be viewed by the public.
In 1868 the collection was awarded independent status as a museum. By the end of the German Empire in 1918 the number of coins had increased significantly as a result of numerous purchases and the acquisition of large private collections. In 1904 the collection moved to its new home at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum (renamed Bode Museum in 1956) where rooms on the lower floor facing Kupfergraben were specially redesigned to suit the needs of the Numismatic Collection.
The collection managed to survive the Second World War in the air-raid shelter belonging to the Pergamon Museum. From there it was taken to the Soviet Union and returned in 1957. As the Numismatic Collection was situated in the east of the city it belonged to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) of the German Democratic Republic. With German reunification the collection became part of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage).
In the 1990s, the initial of reconstruction of the Bode Museum began; in August 2000 basic restoration work followed. The Numismatic Collection re-opened on 22 October 2004 as the first of the Bode Museum's collections. Until the Bode Museum re-opens in its entirety in 2006, only the study room of the Numismatic Collection will be accessible to the public. In the meantime, the collection is presented in a permanent display of 2,000 first-class exhibits of ancient coins at the Pergamon Museum. Selected coins are also exhibited at the Altes Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History.