The Bode-Museum welcomes around a quarter of a million visitors annually; its façade ranks among Berlin’s landmarks. However, its history and the collections displayed within its walls are less well known. Yet the museum’s past and present are directly linked to the history of Berlin. Like the city itself, the Bode-Museum survived two world wars, National Socialism and Germany’s division – and is now also confronting the ongoing challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. To better understand the museum and its role in society then and now, an exhibition is examining for the first time its fateful history from a critical perspective.
Berliners and tourists are well acquainted with the Bode-Museum’s impressive façade. But what do we really know about the institution’s eventful past – from its founding through the history of its collections, including their division following the Second World War, to the people who have worked there? Which gaps exist in the Bode-Museum’s biography and how can they be filled? On our journey through time, we will focus not only on the illustrious moments but also on the museum’s darker ones. Objects, archival photographs, and documents ‒ some of which that have never been exhibited ‒ illuminate topics previously barely touched upon, offering new perspectives on the museum.
The exhibition was conceived as an inreach project under the overall management of María López-Fanjul y Díez del Corral; it was designed by the entire staff of the Skulpturensammlung and the Museum für Byzantinische Kunst (Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art) in cooperation with colleagues from the Münzkabinett (Numismatic Collection), the Zentralarchiv (Central Archive), and the Education and Visitor Services Department of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
In order for this exhibition at the Bode-Museum to also be accessible online to anyone interested, informational texts on the selected works are available and a chronological overview of the museum’s history (PDF, 5.1 MB). The exhibition is divided into four main sections that define the museum – its collections, building, research and public.
Important restoration and conservation measures as well as art-technological examinations presented in the exhibition were made possible by the generous support of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.