The Altes Museum, built between 1823 and 1830 after the design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, is one of the most important works in the architecture of Classicism. With a lucidly ordered exterior and an interior structure of great precision after the Ancient Greek style, Schinkel pursued Humboldt's idea of the museum as an educational institution open to the public.

The monumental order of the 18 fluted ionic columns, the wide stretch of the atrium, the rotunda - an explicit reference to the pantheon in Rome - and finally the grand staircase are all architectural elements which, up to this point, were reserved for stately buildings.

Originally built to house all of Berlin's art collections, the Altes Museum has accommodated the Collection of Classical Antiquities since 1904. Between 1943 and 1945 the building was severely damaged by fire. Reconstruction work continued up until 1966. Since 1998 the Collection of Classical Antiquities has displayed its Greek collection, including the treasury, on the ground floor of the Altes Museum. The Egyptian Museum has, since August 2005, shown its collection on the upper floor where it will remain until it moves to the Neues Museum in 2009.

Collection of Classical Antiquities

The Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) contains Greek and Roman works including not only architectural remains, sculptures and vases, inscriptions and mosaics but also bronzes and jewellery. It is on display in three locations: the Pergamon Museum and the main floor of the Altes Museum as well as the Neues Museum.

The collection

With an annual figure of 1.000.000 visitors the Pergamon Museum ranks among the most popular buildings of the state museums. Its main attraction is the Pergamon Altar (2nd century BC). The frieze depicting the battle between the Gods and Giants is regarded as a masterpiece of Hellenistic art. The next room to the south contains the market Gate of Miletus, an outstanding example of Roman architecture. From there visitors can proceed to the Museum of the Ancient Near East.

Examples of Greek architecture are presented in the hall of Hellenistic architecture adjoining the great hall to the north. The northern wing of the Pergamon Museum contains classical sculptures from the Archaic age to the Hellenistic period, ancient copies of Greek originals as well as Roman art.

Greek and Roman art and sculptures can be found in the Altes Museum. The main highlights, the art of the Etruscans, will go on show when major restoration work on the building has been completed. Until then an exhibition of Greek works of art is open to the public on the newly designed main floor of the building. This thematically arranged exhibition includes stone sculptures, clay and bronze figures, friezes, vases, gold jewellery and silverware. Three information displays provide details on additional topics such as Greek myths, ancient city culture and the archaeological sites investigated by the Berlin museums.

Roman art is represented by relatively few pieces such as portraits of Caesar and Cleopatra, sarcophagi, mosaics, frescos and Roman-Egyptian mummy portraits offering a taste of the final presentation.

Plaster models of antique art are on display in the Replica Collection in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In the nearby Gipsformerei (Replica Workshop) replicas are available for purchase.

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Other museums nearby

  • Alte Nationalgalerie

    The Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) is home to 19th century sculptures and paintings.

  • Bode Museum

    The Bode Museum displays the Sculpture Collection (medieval to 18th century), the Numismatic Colletion and works from the Gemaldegalerie.

  • Pergamon Museum

    The Pergamon Museum houses the Collection of Classical Antiquities, Museum of the Ancient Near East and Museum of Islamic Art.

  • Neues Museum

    The Neues Museum houses the Egyptian Museum, Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and artefacts from Classical Antiquities.

  • Neue Nationalgalerie

    The New National Gallery, houses the collection of 20th century European painting and sculpture from early modern art to art of the 1960's.

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