The various museums on the Museumsinsel Berlin have been at the very forefront of international archaeological research for more than 150 years. Their excavations have not merely shaped, but have written archaeological history.
Scholars from the institutions on the Museumsinsel Berlin have driven forward the discovery and scientific exploration of several of the most culturally important sites in Europe, the Ancient Near East, and the Mediterranean region. This pioneering work has always collectively advanced a wide variety of disciplines at once, including: ancient Near-Eastern archaeology, Egyptology, classical archaeology, Assyriology, ancient philology, epigraphy and numismatics. At the Archäologisches Zentrum this illustrious tradition is continued into the future.
Five archaeological collections of international renown use this modern building as an interdisciplinary platform for their staff, for their research and scientific work, and for their laboratories and research instruments:
The Staatliche Museen’s division for prehistory and ancient history, the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, was the first archaeological collection to move into the new premises, in May 2012, and is one of its main users. Its director and most of its research staff now work in well-lit rooms in the spacious, low-lying part of the building.
Since November 2012, the Archäologisches Zentrum has also been home to Vorderasiatisches Museum’s key external facilities: staff offices, the collection’s own archive and parts of its holdings, as well as its own library and studios.
The Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung maintains its holdings at the Archäologisches Zentrum in five separate conservation studios, which are divided according to material: stone, ceramic, metal, papyrus, wood and other organic matter. Added to this are its storerooms and workspaces for its research staff.
The Museum für Islamische Kunst now enjoys modern storeroom facilities in the Archäologisches Zentrum. They not only meet the most up-to-date conservation demands, but are also intended as open storerooms that provide visitors a direct, behind-the-scenes look at accessible objects currently not on display in the museum. This service is open to interested members of the public by appointment only.
Unlike the other collections that use the Archäologisches Zentrum in the Museumshöfen, the offices for research staff working at the Antikensammlung will remain located for the foreseeable future at their current site in the Altes Museum. Facilities that have relocated to the Archäologisches Zentrum are the collection’s library and its sculpture storerooms (both previously housed in the Altes Museum) and its stone conservation studio, previously housed at the Pergamonmuseum.
Besides the Staatliche Museen’s archaeological collections, the Archäologisches Zentrum is also used by its Kunstbibliothek and Zentralarchiv. The Kunstbibliothek has installed its Archaeological Library at the site. The unique collection of literature on archaeology compiled over the last 150 years by the various museums that comprise the Museumsinsel Berlin is now accessible in its entirety. The holdings, spanning 150,000 items, have been newly shelved and systematized in accordance with international library standards. They are now available for use by researchers from all over the globe. The Kunstbibliothek also provides open-shelf literature on the history of the individual museums, as well as a complete collection of all published material on the holdings and research conducted by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, since its foundation in 1830 under its original name of the Königliche (Royal) Museums in Berlin.
The collective history of the organization once called the 'Royal', now 'National' Museums in Berlin also forms the focus of the activities of the Zentralarchiv – the Staatliche Museen’s central archive division, which holds files, archival collections, and personal collections of manuscripts bequeathed to the Staatliche Museen. Users now have the chance to visit the archive’s reading room at the Archäologisches Zentrums to explore the historic museums’ 'historical memory'.