The Bode-Museum rises above the water at the tip of the Museumsinsel Berlin like a moated palace. Designed by Ernst Eberhard von Ihne, it took just over seven years to build and opened in 1904 under the name Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. The museum, which now bears the name of its first director, Wilhelm von Bode, today contains the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst, as well as numerous paintings from the Gemäldegalerie and the coins and medals of the Münzkabinett.
The Skulpturensammlung is one of the largest collections of ancient sculpture in the world. Its sculptural works range in date from the early Middle Ages to the late 18th century and originate from the German-speaking countries, France, the Low Countries, Italy, and Spain.
Besides important anonymous works of sacred architectural sculpture such as the Romanesque tribune from Gröningen, works by legendary sculptors such as Donatello, Tilman Riemenschneider, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, and Andreas Schlüter are a mark of the collection’s overwhelming quality. The sculptures are displayed together with a selection of paintings from the Gemäldegalerie; the result is a lively dialogue that deliberately reveals the inherent qualities and mutual influences of each art form. Built-in portals, fireplaces, and decorative ceilings dating from the Italian Renaissance are incorporated into the museum’s structure and provide an authentic setting for the works of art on display.
The Museum für Byzantinische Kunst boasts an excellent collection of Late Antique and Byzantine works of art and everyday objects that stem from all over the ancient Mediterranean region. Particular highlights include LateAntique sarcophagi, figurative and ornamental sculpture from the Eastern Roman Empire, and ivory carvings and mosaic icons from post-pharaonic, early Byzantine Egypt.