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

Museum Courtyards

Site of the Museum Courtyards (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015
Competition for Ideas

The Museum Island – A Location for European Art and Culture

Called the “Museum Courtyards,” the site of the former Friedrich-Engels-Kaserne has been intended for use by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) since the 1990s. It is located immediately opposite the Museum Island on the other side of the Kupfergraben. On the northern part of the site, the Archäologisches Zentrum was opened in fall 2012. The southern part is currently being used for construction site logistics.

The idea of creating a new museum building on the southern section of the Museum Courtyards has been pursued since the late 1990s. That way it would be possible to present the Old Master Paintings and the Sculpture Collection both in the new museum and in the neighboring Bode-Museum. In order to create space on the Museum Island for the presentation of the collections, the new building is also intended to be used for internal museum-related functions, including academic administration, storerooms, and restoration workshops.

Since German reunification, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz and its Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) have been working towards the creation of distinctive museum quarters for their outstanding collections. If the Old Masters collection could be presented here in the context of the development of occidental art and culture and their roots, this would make the Museum Island into a complete whole.

Architectural model, 1st prize in the Museum Courtyards Berlin Urban Development Competition for Ideas (Auer Weber architects) (photograph)
© BBR / Michael Lindner

Urban Development Context

Since 1999, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz has had the site of the former Friedrich-Engels-Kaserne at its disposal to be used for extending the Museum Island. Besides the Museum Island Master Plan and the Schlossplatz Feasibility Analysis, it was particularly the competition for urban development ideas that addressed the issue of covering the entire site with buildings. The competition-winning concept by the Munich-based office of Auer Weber was convincing due to its specific manner of structuring the area: the site is divided into two sections by a diagonal walkway. Now that the Archäologisches Zentrum has been built, the northern section is complete in accordance with the Master Plan. As to the development of the southern section, tenders for a competition are still to be invited.

The area still to be developed is located immediately opposite the Bode-Museum [Interner Link] on the other side of the Kupfergraben. It is bordered by the course of the railroad line and the southern side of the Archäologisches Zentrum. Viewed from above, it reflects the triangular shape of the Bode-Museum.

Bird’s eye view of the Museum Island from the north (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015

Joint Presentation of Painting and Sculpture

From the point of view of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, the complete relocation of the Old Masters to the Museum Island and the joint presentation of painting and sculpture in the Bode-Museum [Interner Link] and on the premises of the Museum Courtyards would be the ideal solution. However, according to the feasibility analysis commissioned by the Foundation, this variant will be difficult to realize in the foreseeable future due to the high overall costs involved.

In order to nonetheless present painting as a key medium in the development of European art in the context of the Museum Island, there will be more emphasis than before on exhibiting paintings in the Bode-Museum, and putting these in dialogue with the sculptures. The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin view this as an up-to-date and lively way of conveying art history to the public.

At the same time, this facilitates the presentation and perception of precious works of art from the Old Master Paintings in the context of the Museum Island. In this way it becomes evident that the Old Masters belong to the context of the collections of the Museum Island as a whole.