The Vorderasiatisches Museum was the only branch of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin that was located exclusively in East Berlin. How the “collectively run” Vorderasiatisches Museum carried out its functions in the areas of collecting, preserving, researching, exhibiting and educating is the subject of this special presentation in the Pergamonmuseum, marking the 30th anniversary of the reunification of Berlin’s museums on 1 January 2022.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the reunification of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and West Berlin’s museums of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz on 1 January 2022, the Vorderasiatisches Museum will examine its recent past to enquire into the role of the museum in East German society, and of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin as a whole. How was the museum integrated into the international research community? Which special exhibitions were held in Germany and abroad, and how was the work of the museum’s educational service organised? As integral elements of Berlin’s urban history, the voices and memories of museum visitors will also be incorporated into the exhibition.
The role of museums in East German society and in historical and political education has so far only received marginal attention in efforts to work through the legacy of the SED dictatorship. Even 30 years after reunification, the image of the “Wall” is still frequently invoked in comparisons between East and West. Does this also apply to the museum contexts on either side of the Wall? What were their respective standards in restoration and museum education, and which ones prevailed? Drawing on the Vorderasiatisches Museum as an example, we will show how the institution and its staff operated in the GDR.
This much is certain: the museum’s work bore no resemblance to the images of history shaped by spy and Stasi films. Nor did the museum have any need to fear international comparisons: it organised spectacular events for visitors, its research was on a par with that of international colleagues, and its special exhibitions were shown both at home and abroad. The special presentation brings to light this exciting yet little-known chapter with the help of select archival material, photographs, film clips, and numerous original objects.
The exhibition is made possible by the Freunde der Antike auf der Museumsinsel Berlin e.V.
To mark the exhibition opening, a full-day symposium will be held on Tuesday 9 November 2021 in the auditorium of the James-Simon-Galerie. People who lived through the era and historians will bring together different perspectives and discuss new research methods. The symposium programme will be made available online in due course.
A special exhibition of the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Address / Getting there
partially wheelchair accessible
Please note: Pergamonmuseum is exclusively entered through James-Simon-Galerie!
Site plan: Entrance to the Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum (PDF)
All groups meet at the information desk at the upper foyer in James-Simon-Galerie, entering by using the big stairway.
Advice for group visits to the Pergamonmuseum an the Neues Museum (PDF)
Due to a technical issue, the lift is out of service until further notice, meaning the Museum für Islamische Kunst is not currently wheelchair accessible. The major architectural exhibits – such as the Processional Way, featuring the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus – are still accessible to people with mobility issues.
S-Bahn: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt
Tram: Am Kupfergraben, Hackescher Markt
Bus: Staatsoper, Lustgarten, Friedrichstraße
Low-carbon public transport connections
Sun 10:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 18:00
Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 10:00 - 18:00
Opening times on public holidays Plan your visit
Access via James-Simon-Galerie