Two collections have taken up permanent residency in the Neues Museum to present their archaeological treasures to the public: the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung and the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, with objects 'on loan' from the Antikensammlung.
The Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung provides a comprehensive insight into the continuities and changes that occurred over the course of four millennia in ancient Egyptian and Nubian cultures. The exhibition starts with the history of the collection and of Egyptology itself. Moving from the display of portrait heads of various kings, the exhibition leads to the magnificent Berlin Green Head, illustrating how sculpture progressed as an art form, before coming to the three chambers of offerings dating from the Old Kingdom that bring to life tomb architecture and relief art.
The main floor primarily features sculpture in the round. The typological display of private figures is followed by works from the Amarna period including the famous head of Tiy and the world-renowned bust of Nefertiti. The tour through Egypt ends in the Library of Antiquity, containing a selection of texts and literary works taken from the culture of writing that stretches all the way from Ancient Egypt down to late antiquity. The lower-ground level, meanwhile, is dedicated to everyday life, the afterlife and the cult of the gods.
With 6000 exhibits on view, the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte presents a sweeping survey of archaeological finds from the whole of Europe and parts of Asia, which bring to life the cultural history of these regions from the Stone Age up to the Middle Ages. They are joined by artworks from classical antiquity from the Antikensammlung.
On the ground floor, the room 'Odin, Urns and Looted Art' greets visitors with original, 19th-century wall paintings of Nordic mythological scenes. This is followed by the rooms dedicated to Heinrich Schliemann’s collection of artefacts from Troy and the cultural history of neighbouring Cyprus. The route around the first floor starts with the archaeology of the Roman provinces and depictions of Rome’s Germanic northern neighbours. Artefacts in the next room range from late antiquity to the start of Christian Western culture.
Finally, the second floor takes visitors back to the Stone Age with the Neanderthal from Le Moustier, the Bronze Age with the Berlin Gold Hat, and the diverse culture of the pre-Roman Iron Age. The exhibition ends with a selection of the many artefacts held in the study collection, presented in historical cabinets in a style that is richly evocative of the original exhibition format which the very first visitors to the museum would have experienced some 150 years ago.