But it took going to Berlin to discover many of the other wonderful museums – over 200 in total – and we spent an amazing week in their hallowed halls.
We arrived in Berlin on a Monday morning and were fortunate enough to have some incredible friends who let us crash with them. It’s always nice to have someone in the city with recommendations on what to do – and not to do!
Our first museum wasn’t on Museum Island, but since our host, Alise, was interested in revisiting the Gemäldegalerie, we started our tour with a collection of paintings ranging from the 13th to 18th centuries. Initially high on my list, after about an hour weaving in and out of an unsurprisingly lot of religious paintings, the only thing that really caught my attention was this half of Jean Fouquet’s Melun Diptych:
I loved the vivid colors and the story behind painting Mary’s breast and Jesus’ genitals – making her more maternal, him less formal and more relatable. Having gone to museums in nearly every country I’ve visited, Germany was the first place I really got into audio guides – it certainly helped that they were free! But without it, I probably would’ve spent even less time in this museum.
Our next museum was visited because we still had 30 minutes to kill before heading over to the free Tuesday concert at the Berliner Philharmonie. We had purchased the Museum Pass Berlin, which for 29 euros, gives you access to over 30 museums in the city. Without that pass, and Alise’s recommendation, we never would have heard of this museum: Kunstgewerbemuseum or Museum of Decorative Arts.
Chandler really went to look at their selection of chairs, but we had a fun time looking through their entire furniture collection. There’s also a fashion gallery with costumes from the 18th to 20th centuries that we wanted to go back for, but never had the time. Another really random, but memorable part of the museum is their current exhibition on the food revolution. It doesn’t sound like it should all belong in one museum, but somehow it all worked.
The next day – because you can only do so many museums in one day – we made our way to Museum Island and the famed Pergamon Museum. Worried about crowds, we made a quick stop at the Brandenburg Gate, before arriving at the museum shortly after it opened.
We needn’t have worried. For whatever reason – construction, difficulty finding the entrance, etc. we had no problems getting in. In fact, we were concerned the museum was closed as we breezed past the “Two hour wait,” “One hour wait,” and “You’re almost there,” line signs. The only people at the door were two security guards who ushered us in.
The first thing you see when you walk up into the museum itself is the Ishtar Gate:
Way larger than I could have expected, that seemed to be the theme of the museum: larger than life. Because not only was there the Ishtar Gate, but the Pergamon Museum is also home to the Roman Market Gate of Miletus, as well as the Mshatta Façade – each towering over the visitor. I’ve never seen pieces of this size put together in a museum before.
The well-known Pergamon Alter is unavailable until 2023, with construction in the museum (they’re adding a fourth wing) to be completed in 2025. We were more than happy with what we saw. We also loved the collection of Islamic Art – that being our highlight the last time we went to the Louvre and for our stopover in Qatar.
At this point, we were getting ready for lunch, but we didn’t want to leave Museum Island without a look at the Bust of Nefertiti. So we quickly stopped inside the Neues Museum. Other than the bust, we didn’t have a strong desire to look at more Egyptian artifacts, having spent our winter holiday in Egypt.
Photographs aren’t allowed inside the room where the bust is kept, but it was pretty hilarious watching people queue up behind a line in the neighboring room for a shot through the glass encasing.