Local high school takes over the Museumsinsel Berlin

Museumsinsel Berlin

Around 900 pupils and 80 teachers from a Berlin school visited the Museumsinsel on 22 April 2015. Working closely with Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium, a local high-tier high school, the education and outreach staff at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin spent months developing more than 50 cross-curricular art-appreciation and cultural education formats. All five museums on the Museumsinsel were involved in the project: Altes Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, and Pergamonmuseum. The project also covered broader, over-arching topics such as the history of the Museumsinsel itself and archaeological research.

The museum-hopping visit did not contain guided tours or conventional talks in front of objects. Instead the pupils were left to discover the five museums on the island on their own, using the newly developed learning materials and with their teachers on hand to help them. In the Alte Nationalgalerie they explored themes of 'sensuality - reason - modernity’; in the Neues Museum 'death - religion - afterlife’, and in the Pergamonmuseum 'temple - church - mosque’. The young people were actively involved in drawing up the activities for the day. For example, A-level students developed specific workshops that they carried out with other pupils.

So students can shed light on their experience for museum educators, they have created 'emotional maps’ reflecting their visit and will present the results of the museum day at the next school open day. This project thus offers museum educators the opportunity to gauge and interpret young people’s responses to the exhibitions. Our goal is to incorporate the results of the museum-hopping day in future education work at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium in Berlin’s northern district of Reinickendorf has been a partner in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s model programme 'Cultural Agents for Creative Schools’ since 2011. The programme aims to connect schools with cultural institutions and thus strengthen teaching in the humanities. The museum-hopping day 'Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium takes over the Museuminsel’ is just the start of a long-term collaboration between the school and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.