For the design of the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum (renamed Bode Museum in 1956), the emperor Wilhelm II commissioned the head government building officer Ernst von Ihne, one of the best-known exponents of "Wilhelminian Baroque". In order to achieve the appearance of a building rising from water the architect arranged the three-winged building around several interior courtyards so that the exterior facades immediately bordered the banks of the river Spree. A dominating dome and two opulent staircases lend the building a stately air which is underlined further by the decorative elements such as the monumental pilasters, demi-columns and window surrounds. The former general director of the museums Wilhelm von Bode himself made suggestions concerning the lighting of the rooms and their proportioning. The art works were shown within the context of original ceilings, fire places, door jambs, tapestries and furniture. Bodes presentation concept, aimed at a general effect of authenticity, was influential throughout the world.

The museum was opened in 1904. During the Second World War much of the building, especially the dome, suffered great damages. Beginning in the 1950s, step by step the museum was reconstructed and put back into use. In the 1990s, general restoration began with the first parts of reconstruction work; in August 2000 construction works for the basic restoration followed. The Numismatic Collection has been open to visitors at the Bode Museum since 22 October 2004, opened on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. On 19 October 2006, the Bode Museum was re-opened in its entirety, displaying the Sculpture Collection, the Numismatic Colletion and works from the Gemäldegalerie - Old Master Paintings.

The Sculpture Collection

The Sculpture Collection is one of Germany's largest collections of sculptures dating from the Middle Ages and later. It originates in the Prussian "Art Cabinet" collections, the Brandenburgisch-Preußische Kunstkammern. After decades of being dispersed, the collection of sculpture was reunited in the Bode Museum, its original home.

The Sculpture Collection possesses works from the Early Middle Ages to the late eighteenth century, from the German-speaking countries, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Italian sculpture is a particular area of emphasis in the collection. Major medieval pieces, such as the Madonna by Presbyter Martinus and the Man of Sorrows by Giovanni Pisano, lead on to masterpieces of the early Renaissance. Glazed terracottas by Luca della Robbia, Donatello's Pazzi Madonna and the portrait busts by Desiderio da Settignano, Francesco Laurana and Mino da Fiesole are all highlights of the collection.

Late Gothic German sculpture is another prominent section with works by Hans Multscher, Tilman Riemenschneider, Hans Brüggemannn, Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden and Hans Leinberger. Statuettes made of alabaster, boxwood and ivory represent sculpture of the German Renaissance and Baroque periods. The monumental wooden sculptures of knight-saints Zürn dating from the Thirty Years War are particularly impressive works of craftsmanship.

The museum also possesses some excellent examples of architectural sculpture. The gallery from the church in Gröningen is a major work of the German Romanesque period. Sculptures by Andreas Schlüter and the six figures of generals, which were created for the former Wilhelmplatz, represent Berlin sculpture of the 17th and 18th century. Rococo and early and late Classicism in Germany and France are represented with works by Ignaz Günther, Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer, Edme Bouchardon, and Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The study collection of the newly opened Bode Museum displays numerous pieces of Italian sculpture by different schools, mainly from the period of the Renaissance. They include the bronze head of Lodovico Gonzaga, the head fragment of the "Princess of Naples", and the bust of Flora which, much-debated regarding its position within the history of art, has recently been redated. Focal points are the 15th century Madonna reliefs made of clay, stucco and cartapesta, centred around a madonna composition by Jacopo Sansovino, one of the most important works of its kind in the 16th century, as well as a number of fragments of first-class sculptures shown for the first time since the end of the Second World War.

As a particular highlight of contemporary state support, the museum's collection is being supplemented for three years with thirty works from the "Kunstkammer Würth", the collection of the industrialist, art collector and patron Reinhold Würth. Next to a 17th century cabinet, the Kunstkammer mainly contains small ivory sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries by artists such as Leonhard Kern, Zacharias Hegewald, Joachim Henne, Adam Lenckhardt, Paul Egell or Christoph Daniel Schenck. Moreover, the presentation includes a precious 17th century amber altar, a silver piece showing Diana on a stag, partially gilt by Paulus Ättinger, as well as turned ivories.

Numismatic Collection

The Numismatic Collection is one of the largest collections of its kind with around 500,000 objects. The collection owes its international renown to its rich diversity as well as the comprehensiveness of its coin series which range from the beginnings of coinage in the seventh century BC in Asia Minor to the coins and medals of the twenty-first century.

On the occasion of the centenary of the Bode-Museum, the Numismatic Collection was re-opened on 22 October 2004, after six years of restoration. The whole Bode-Museum was ceremoniously re-opened in October 2006. The collection is also presented in a permanent display of 2,000 first-class exhibits of ancient coins at the Pergamon Museum. Selected coins are also exhibited at the Altes Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History.

The most significant holdings within the Numismatic Collection include: 102,000 Greek coins and about 50,000 from ancient Rome; 160,00 European coins from the Middle Ages to modern times and 35,000 Oriental-Islamic coins. There are also 25,000 examples of medals, which began to develop as an art form around 1400 AD.

Apart from the coins and medals, the collection also contains paper currency, historical seals dating from the Middle Ages, and examples of different forms of money used by primitive peoples. In addition there are more than 15,000 minting tools, including over 10,000 dies with which coins were struck in Berlin from the 17th century onwards, as well as a large collection of casts.

The Numismatic Collection acquired its leading status primarily through the comprehensiveness of the series in its possession, as well as through a significant number of extremely rare items. The motifs on the coins are highly varied and themes tend to reappear throughout the centuries. Images include religious themes from ancient mythology and Christian beliefs, coats of arms, animals, plants, buildings and famous personalities.

Exhibitions

Opening information

Open 10am - 6pm, Thursday until 10pm, closed Monday.

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