Tenth Anniversary of the Reopening of the Neues Museum

Neues Museum

In October 2019, the Neues Museum will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its re-opening. To celebrate this milestone, on 12 October 2019, the Neues Museum – whose restoration and reconstruction was completed in 2009 under the direction of architect David Chipperfield – opened up its collections and objects to be rediscovered and explored through two special presentations: in the Greek Courtyard, a light installation links the highlights of the museum – from Nefertiti through to the Berlin Golden Hat – to fascinating background stories, while in the staircase, visitors are able to embark on a virtual journey through history with VR goggles.

Exploring the Collections with Treasure Maps

To mark the anniversary, in the Greek Courtyard, an ensemble of stelae and pedestals with reflective and refractive surfaces were arranged, producing impressive plays of light and creating connections with some of the highlights of the museum’s various collections. “Treasure maps” provide visitors with fascinating details about 160 exhibits, use unusual themes to establish surprising connections between the objects and invite visitors to set off on expeditions throughout the entire building. The installation interrogates traditional concepts of exhibiting and audience interaction and opens up new conceptual spaces.

Further information about the exhibition A Shift in Perspective: The Neues Museum Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary.

Virtual Reality in the Staircase

In the staircase of the Neues Museum, visitors can use VR goggles to watch two 360° films about the condition of the staircase around 1920 and about the monumental series of paintings that once adorned the walls, before they were completely destroyed during the Second World War. As one of the central spaces of the museum, the original design of the staircase was extremely complex and decorated in a highly symbolic fashion; the paintings covered the full length of the walls and were around eight metres tall. A total of six works by the artist Wilhelm von Kaulbach depicted the 19th-century view of the world and the fundamental mission the museum to present and maintain cultural history. The virtual reconstruction was based on historical images and produced in collaboration with TU Darmstadt, Architectura Virtualis and ZDF-digital.

To take part in this virtual reality experience, visitors book a 20-minute time slot (free of charge) in the museum, during which they can watch the two films, which each run for around six minutes. Before and after the films, visitors have the chance to take a look around the virtually reconstructed space. Offering them a digital journey through time to the architecture and ideas of the 19th century, when the Neues Museum was first conceived and constructed.  

Detailed information on the exhibition 10 Years of the Neues Museum: A Virtual Reality Tour of 150 Years of History.

The Neues Museum

The Neues Museum was commissioned by Frederick William IV of Prussia and erected between 1843 and 1855 after designs by Friedrich August Stüler. It was intended to provide exhibition space for the Ägyptisches Museum, the Museum vaterländischer Altertümer (Vor-und Frühgeschichte), the Ethnographische Sammlung, for casts of ancient, medieval and modern sculptures, the applied arts collections of the Kunstkammer, and for the Kupferstichkabinett.

Destroyed, Dilapidated, and Rebuilt

With the collections having been relocated to storage facilities back in 1939, the Neues Museum suffered heavy damage in the bombing campaigns of 1943, during which the staircase was completely gutted by fire. During the GDR era, the Neues Museum was left in ruins, with trees growing in the staircase. In the late 1980s, plans to rebuild the museum began to be made, which were then reconceptualised after reunification and ultimately carried out between 2003 and 2009, with the British architect David Chipperfield overseeing the rebuild and adding a number of complementary elements.

Ten Years Ago: The Reopening

Since its reopening, the Neues Museum has been home to the collections of the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, the Museum für Vor-und Frühgeschichte, as well as parts of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Antikensammlung. Today, the building fascinates visitors not just with its architecture, but also with the collections on display. Just recently, The Guardian named the building number three on its list of the best architecture of the 21st century.