The opening of the Neues Museum marked a key chapter in the history of 19th-century art, museum design, and technology. Designed by Friedrich August Stüler and built from 1843 to 1855, the building suffered severe damage during World War II, after which it was left as an abandoned bombsite. Emergency measures to secure the structure were only taken in the 1980s.
Painstaking restoration work got under way in 2003 and was undertaken by the offices of the British architect David Chipperfield. The building’s façade and interiors were carefully preserved, the scars of the war were not patched over but rather incorporated into the restoration of the landmarked building. What emerged was a restored historical building that is simultaneously a modern museum. Chipperfield thus managed to lend this extraordinary building and former ruin a unique and wholly authentic splendour.
The museum reopened its doors to the public in 2009 and combines geographically and thematically related exhibits pooled together from three separate collections at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: the collection of Egyptian art from the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, of prehistoric objects from the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, and of classical antiquities from the Antikensammlung. This joint exhibition featuring exhibits of unparalleled breadth and diversity allows visitors to trace the development of prehistoric and protohistoric cultures, spanning from the Middle East to the Atlantic, from north Africa to Scandinavia.