Museum Island

Article

November 27, 2021

Museum Island (German: Museumsinsel) is the name of the northern part of the island of the river Spree in central Berlin. Five of Berlin’s most important museums were established here and the area is still one of Berlin’s most visited sights. Since 1999, Museum Island has been a World Heritage Site.

History

The northern part of the island of Spree was a swampy grove in the Middle Ages. While the town of Cölln was established in the 13th century in the southern part, the northern part was used much later as the garden of the Berliner Stadtschloss. It was created in the 17th century by the regulation of the left branch of the Spree in what is now Kupfergraben, which drained the northern part of the island. A park called Lustgarten was established in the area between the Spree and the Kupfergraben. In 1797 II. King Frederick William of Prussia embraced the proposal of archaeologist and art historian Alois Hirt to build a museum to exhibit antique and modern art treasures. In 1810 III. Frigyes Vilmos issued a decree to create a public art collection. Karl Friedrich Schinkel presented the plans for the new building in 1822, as a result of which the northern part of the island of Spree was completely rearranged. Schinkel's construction plan included the construction of several bridges in addition to the museum, as well as the straightening of the Kupfergraben. Wilhelm von Humboldt was commissioned to lead the museum's founding committee. The Royal Museum of Prussia, now called the Altes Museum (Old Museum), was established in 1830 as the first building on Museum Island; it was the only public museum in Prussia. The Neues Museum opened in 1855, followed in 1876 by the Alte Nationalgalerie. The Emperor Frederick Museum was inaugurated in 1904 and was renamed the Bode Museum in 1956 by art historian Wilhelm von Bode. The Pergamonmuseum was built in 1930. Towards the end of the 1870s, the name Museum Island became common throughout the area. In 1880, the Conference of Museum Directors decided that in the future only high art would be accepted on Museum Island, which at the time was limited to European and Middle Eastern art. During World War II, more than 70% of museums were destroyed during bombings and fighting. Reconstruction, which began in 1950, did not apply to the most severely damaged Neues Museum. The ruin of the New Museum, called a disgrace, was originally intended to be demolished, but this did not happen as the intact premises used for the warehouse could not be replaced. In 1986, preparations for renovation work began. Although a complete renovation of Museum Island was planned before 1989, it did not begin due to the enormous cost. After German reunification, a comprehensive reorganization of the Museum Island began in the late 1990s. In 1999, the council of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation launched the Masterplan Museumsinsel project, which envisages the renovation of the buildings, the architectural connection of the museum complex and the rearrangement of the collections distributed before 1989.

U5 project

As part of the U5 project, which began in 2016 (extending the U5 line to the Brandenburger Tor and from there the U55 line to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof), the U5 underground station will also be here. The station will open in the summer of 2021, and the Unter den Linden and Rotes Rathaus stations will open on December 4, 2020.

Location of buildings

The northern tip of Museum Island is crossed by the Monbijou Bridge, which connects the island to both banks of the Spree. The entrance to the Bode Museum is accessible via a bridge closed to car traffic. The dome of the triangular neo-baroque building of the Bode Museum dominates the northern part of the island. South of the Bode Museum is the berl

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