Soundscapes – Music in Ancient Greece

26.08.2021 to 03.07.2022
Altes Museum

There’s no life without music! Against the backdrop of our current situation and its effects on cultural life, the Antikensammlung’s special exhibition in the Altes Museum on music and dance in Ancient Greece seems particularly timely.

In Ancient Greece, music played a central role in all spheres of life, both public and private. We can only guess at what this music sounded like. But there are a wealth of visual sources that can tell us who played which instruments and in which settings – as well as telling us that there were often people dancing along. The depictions of these soundscapes are the focus of this exhibition. 

By way of selected vase motifs, terracotta and bronze figures, along with a large-format statue of Apollo, the show will conjure a panorama of the contexts in which music accompanied daily life in Ancient Greece: both on the macro level, as part of religious rituals and cultic festivities, in theatres, musical contests, or even in battle; and on the micro level, in private settings, on festive, wine-fuelled evenings, at schools and in mortuary cults.

Objects from Storage and the Reconstruction of an Ancient Cithara

The show’s high-quality exhibits are drawn from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s own collections. Many of them had been lying dormant in storage, and are on display now for the very first time. The exhibits also include a reconstruction of an ancient cithara, which was fabricated specially for the exhibition. In the centre of the space, the exhibition architecture is reminiscent of a classical auditorium. 

Media Stations

The media stations built into this architecture feature audio examples and a video demonstrating how the classical instruments and choral pieces were played or performed. They also offer a glimpse into the historical sources on which musical archaeologists have based their recent attempts to bring the music of antiquity back to life.

Audio Guides

A German and English audio guide for adults and one made specially for children offer an immersive experience of both sections of the exhibition.

Partner Exhibition Soundscapes: Music in Ancient Egypt by the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung

While the Antikensammlung looks into the information about life in Ancient Greece that can be gleaned from visual sources, the partner exhibition Soundscapes - Music in Ancient Egypt, organised by the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung and on display in the special exhibition space of the Neues Museum, focuses on the musical instruments of antiquity themselves. The Vorderasiatisches Museum and the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte have both made features in their permanent exhibitions of objects related to the theme of music.

Exhibition Publication

The exhibition will be accompanied by a small, lavishly illustrated publication titled "Klangbilder: Musik im antiken Griechenland", retailing at 9.90 EUR, which can be purchased in the museum or through our Webshop (in german).

 A special exhibition of the Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in the Altes Museum

Visitors to the Neue Nationalgalerie
© Ludwig Mies van der Rohe / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021 /Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Valerie Schmidt, 2021
The Education and Outreach Semi-Annual Programmes “Bildung und Vermittlung 2/2021” Are Here!

Am Lustgarten
10178 Berlin

wheelchair accessible
Full access for persons with mobility impairment is possible via the service entrance (please ask for porter for assistance).

Until 17.8.2018, the building will only have one functioning lift, with an entrance width of 80cm.

U-Bahn: Friedrichstraße
S-Bahn: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt
Tram: Am Kupfergraben, Hackescher Markt
Bus: Staatsoper, Lustgarte, Friedrichstraße

Low-carbon public transport connections
Local traffic
Long distance

Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Mon closed
Tue 11:00 - 18:00
Wed 11:00 - 18:00
Thu 11:00 - 18:00
Fri 11:00 - 18:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00

Opening times on public holidays Plan your visit

Altes Museum
10,00 EUR Concessions 5,00
Buy ticket

Annual Ticket from 25 €
free time slot ticket required

Tel 030 - 266 42 42 42 (Mon - Fri, 9 am - 4 pm)
Questions | Bookings | Feedback