The last chance to view the Pergamon Altar before the room closure is Sunday 28 September 2014.
As part of the far-reaching 'Master Plan' for the general renovation of the Museumsinsel, extensive renovation work is taking place inside the Pergamonmuseum and on its exterior. For the next building phase, it is necessary to close the hall containing the Pergamon Altar for several years, starting this month, September 2014. The three museum collections housed at the Pergamonmuseum will remain open to visitors: the Museum of the Ancient Near East, Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic Art), and the Collection of Classical Antiquities with its Roman Architecture Hall, featuring the Market Gate of Miletus.
To allow Berliners and visitors to the city a chance to view the Pergamon Altar before its medium-term closure, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has decided to extend this month's evening opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays until 8 p.m., starting Friday, 5 September up to and including Saturday 27 September.
During this period the museum will be open as follows:
Sundays to Wednesdays: 10:00 to 18:00
Thursday to Saturday: 10:00 to 20:00
What will happen to the Pergamon Altar during the closure? Different sections of the altar will be treated differently, with a clear distinction being made between three sections:
1. The reconstruction of the western facade, including original sections and the large staircase, the two avant-corps (with the original western frieze), and the two colonnades above them.
2. The original marble frieze originally from the northern, eastern, and southern side of the altar, with its rolling depiction the Gigantomachy (Frieze of the Giants), mounted on high pedestals running along the walls of the room, facing in towards the altar.
3. The original marble frieze above the large staircase with its representation of the Telephos (or Telephus) saga.
The Telephos Frieze and Frieze of the Giants were in fact recently restored, from 1994 to 2004, and will not undergo further conservation treatments during current renovation work. The Frieze of the Giants will remain in the room and be covered up by protective scaffolding during construction work. Its panels cannot be disassembled, as such a measure would present too many logistical and technical challenges and conservation risks. The Telephos Frieze, however, has been recently freed from its pedestals and is ready to be moved into storage after the room's closure.
Restoration work is due to take place on the reconstructed western facade, which will not be removed, but which will be covered by a protective scaffold structure, like the Frieze of the Giants. The restoration aims to improve its surface appearance. The modern architectural replicas of the colonnades (bases, columns, capitals, entablatures, and cornices) are made of artificial stone and have been painted over on several occasions since the ensemble's creation in the 1920s, particularly in 1958-59 during its post-war reconstruction. As a result, their contours have become blurred and the colour matt, in a way similar to the decorative stucco on the ceilings of old Berlin apartments. Work on the architectural surfaces will be carried out in coordination with the general construction-work in the building.
After the closure of the Pergamon Altar Room, the spotlight will be placed on cross-collection displays, e.g. the Market Gate of Miletus in dialogue with the Ishtar Gate and Mshatta Facade. The displays in the Altes Museum and Neues Museum will continue to afford visitors an insight into the lives of the ancient Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, particularly with an emphasis on the Roman provinces. There are also plans to hold a temporary exhibition in the vicinity of the Museumsinsel, presented by the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) in collaboration with Yadegar Asisi. The show will feature a revised version of the artist's 2011 Pergamon Panorama along with original artefacts from the ancient city of Pergamon, including the Telephos Frieze. This interim presentation can only succeed with financial backing from the private sector, as the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (the umbrella organization that oversees the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) lacks the necessary funds.
The general renovation of the Pergamonmuseum is being primarily carried out due to the poor structural condition of the building. Significant damages are especially evident in: the steel structure of the roof and the glass ceilings below, the facades and cornices, and in the foundations below the forecourt. The technical facilities (environmental controls and electrical systems, including security systems, lighting, etc.) are in need of modernization and no longer meet the requirements of a modern museum operation with ever-increasing visitor numbers. During the renovations, the main entrance in the museum courtyard and the bridge over the river will also be modernized. In addition to the renovation of existing structures, the Pergamonmuseum is also about to receive a fourth wing that will allow visitors to make a circular tour through the architectures of the ancient world on the main exhibition floor.
Please note: To reduce admission waiting times for the Pergamonmuseum, which will remain open after the Pergamon Altar's closure, we strongly recommend that you book tickets in advance at: www.smb.museum