As a unique ensemble of museum architecture and design, the Museumsinsel Berlin represents just under two-hundred years of a flourishing landscape of scholarship and learning in the centre of Berlin. It is being restored based on a Master Plan, and developed into a future-oriented museum complex. The website www.museumsinsel-berlin.de gives more information on the future character of the Museumsinsel.
The overarching significance of the Museumsinsel Berlin was reflected in its recognition by UNESCO as a place of World Cultural Heritage in 1999. In the same year the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz’s trustees decided on a master plan for the buildings’ renovation and for the modern development of the museum complex as a whole. This master plan was a crucial part of the island’s application to be officially recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site. The plan views the ensemble of five historical buildings as forming a thematic whole, while at the same time respecting the architectural autonomy of each separate museum. Responsibility for the actual implementation of the master plan lies with the Museumsinsel planning group formed in 1998, which is composed of the architectural firms responsible for the renovation of the individual museums, under the general coordination of David Chipperfield Architects.
In redesigning the Museumsinsel Berlin the correct balance must be struck between continued careful conservation and urban development. On the one hand, the original character of the historical exhibition buildings must be preserved, while simultaneously giving rise to a museum complex equipped to face the challenges of the future. Once completed, the Archäologische Promenade will interlink four of the five museum buildings (with the exception of the Alte Nationalgalerie) at their lower-ground level and will be used to showcase dominant themes in cultural history with artefacts from all archaeological collections housed on the Museumsinsel Berlin. This thematic and spatial interlinking of the museums will proceed from the James-Simon-Galerie, which is under current construction and which will be situated between the Neues Museum and Kupfergraben. This new building will in future form the main entrance to all the museums. The Promenade will then commence in the Altes Museum, passing through the Neues Museum, the Pergamonmuseum and on to the Bode-Museum.
The Masterplan Museumsinsel not only focuses on bringing together the Staatliche Museen’s archaeological collections in their original buildings, it also takes in the many study collections, conservation studios, libraries, archives, and administrative units currently located in the direct vicinity of the Museumsinsel Berlin, in an area presently under construction: the Museumshöfe. The Archäologisches Zentrum located on this site was opened in November 2012 and provides a common interdisciplinary platform for staff from the five world-renowned archaeological collections based on the island and their scientific activities.