Museum Island Overview of the Buildings
Altes Museum Neues Museum Pergamonmuseum Bode-Museum Alte Nationalgalerie James-Simon-Galerie Archäologisches Zentrum Erweiterung Bode-Museum

Archäologisches Zentrum

Archäologisches Zentrum (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2012
Opened in 2012

Relieving the Museum Island of Administrative Functions

The opening of the Archäologisches Zentrum in fall 2012 marked the completion of another step towards the realization of the Museum Island Master Plan. On the site of the former Friedrich-Engels-Kaserne in the immediate vicinity of the Museum Island, a building has been constructed that accommodates internal functions of the museums, thus creating more space for exhibitions on the island.

The building, which is based on plans by harris + kurrle architekten, houses the Central Archive of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) and an archaeological library. In addition, it accommodates storerooms, workshops, and the administrative units of the archaeological collections. Being a centrally located site for scholarship and research, the Archäologisches Zentrum is an asset to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz (National Museums in Berlin – Prussian Cultural Heritage). Since 2014, the offices of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg have been located there as well.

© SPK / ART+COM, 2012

A Place of Scholarship and Research

The Archäologisches Zentrum was built on the Kupfergraben plot opposite the Museum Island. Besides the new building, the complex includes part of the old building at Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse. The building complex as a whole encloses a leafy inner courtyard. The new building consists of two interlocking parts. In front of the main entrance there will be a square which, due to its particular location between the Museum Island and the Humboldt University Library, is intended as a place where art and science can meet.

Urban Development Concept and Competition for Ideas

A key objective of the Museum Island Master Plan [Interner Link] is relocating internal functions from the museums so they can be used exclusively for the presentation of the collections. Since 1999, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) has had the site of the former Friedrich-Engels-Kaserne at its disposal for that purpose. It is located immediately opposite the Museum Island on the other side of the Kupfergraben, and is also referred to as “Museum Courtyards.”

In 2005, tenders for a competition for ideas were invited with the objective of creating an urban development concept for the Museum Courtyards site. The winning design by the office of Auer Weber divided the development zone into a northern and southern section. In between these sections, the plan envisions a walkway leading from the Monbijoubrücke on the tip of the island towards the Humboldt University in Berlin Library. At Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse there is a landmarked historical part of the barracks which was renovated in 2006/2007. Adjacent to this, the new building of the Archäologisches Zentrum was constructed between 2009 and 2012. As to the southern development zone, the competition for ideas envisions further options for accommodating museum-related functions as well as a new gallery building.

Design and Function of the Building

Based on the competition for ideas for an urban development concept, a competition was held for the realization of a so-called Kompetenzzentrum (center of excellence) for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The Stuttgart-based architects’ office of harris + kurrle architekten came off as the winner in 2007. The building is now called the “Archäologisches Zentrum.” It offers space for storerooms, workshops and administrative units of almost all the archaeological collections on the Museum Island: the Museum of the Ancient Near East, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, and the Collection of Classical Antiquities. In addition, an archaeological library has been established there for the scholarly public. The Central Archive of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has moved from the Pergamonmuseum to the Archäologisches Zentrum as well. In addition, the new building is connected with the landmarked old building on Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse. Besides further rooms used for internal museum-related purposes, the old building features a public auditorium.

Courtyard of the Archäologisches Zentrum (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2012

Dates and Facts

  • Architects: harris + kurrle architekten BDA, Stuttgart
  • 2005: competition for ideas for urban development on the site of the “Museum Courtyards” opposite the Bode-Museum
  • 2006-2007: superstructure renovation of the old building at Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse (architects’ office of Maria Pinardi)
  • 2006/07: competition for the realization of the construction phase of the Archäologisches Zentrum
  • 2009: start of construction
  • Fall 2012: opening