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

The Magnet for Visitors

Attracting more than a million visitors each year, the Pergamonmuseum is one of Berlin’s most visited museums. The building, which was designed by Alfred Messel, opened in 1930 and was the last of the five museums on the Museum Island to be inaugurated.

In the course of the complete renovation and enhancements based on the plans of architect O.M. Ungers, a fourth wing will be added to the Pergamonmuseum. That way, visitors will be able to enjoy a unique tour through the monumental architectural exhibits of Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. There will be several phases in the complete renovation and extension of the building; hence, it will not be completely closed to visitors at any time.

The Pergamonmuseum will be integrated into the Museum Island as a whole by means of a new entrance concept. It is expected that the Pergamonmuseum will be completely accessible to visitors again in 2025/26.

Pergamonmuseum

Front of the Pergamonmuseum with the fourth wing (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015
Successive restoration and construction
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015

The Pergamonmuseum in the Future

The Pergamonmuseum faces the Kupfergraben, and a fourth wing will be added on that side. Due to this new connection, visitors will be able to take a complete, uninterrupted tour through the architectures of antiquity. That floor of the museum will be directly accessible from the James-Simon-Galerie. In the course of the complete renovation, both the bridge over the Kupfergraben and the tempietto entrance in the Court of Honor will be rebuilt. The Court of Honor, which is enclosed by the four wings of the building, will become a hub with passages that allow visitors to access the entire Museum Island even outside the opening hours.

Complete Renovation and Extension

The complete extensive renovation of the Pergamonmuseum is being carried out without interrupting the overall operation of the museum. In fall 2012 the north wing was closed and the basement under the Court of Honor cleared. The heart of the museum, the Hall of the Pergamon Altar located in the central structure of the building, has been closed to the public since fall 2014. The entire south wing, featuring, among other things, the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way of Babylon, will be open to the public during that first phase of the renovation. The plan is to reopen the north wing and Pergamonsaal in 2019. After that, in a second building phase, the south wing will be renovated and the fourth wing built. Prior to starting the complete renovation, urgent measures for danger prevention had already been undertaken at the Pergamonmuseum, and the cornice was renovated between 2007 and 2009.

Architectural Competition and Offices Involved

In 2000, tenders for a competition were invited for the complete renovation and extension of the Pergamonmuseum. The winner of the first prize was O.M. Ungers (Cologne). Based on the design plans submitted by the office of O.M. Ungers, the future layout and look of the Pergamonmuseum were decided upon in February 2006. After Unger’s death in 2007, the Pergamonmuseum Working Group was commissioned to plan and realize the construction works. The Working Group consists of the architects’ office Kleihues + Kleihues Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH (Berlin) and the BAL Bauplanungs u. Steuerungs GmbH (Berlin). Up to his death in July 2012, Walter A. Noebel (Berlin) was part of the Working Group Pergamonmuseum as well.

Collections in the Pergamonmuseum

The Pergamonmuseum houses parts of the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Museum of the Ancient Near East. The objects from these collections will be exhibited in the Pergamonmuseum in the future as well. As soon as the renovation is completed, the museum will additionally present the monumental architecture of the Egyptian Museum. The Pergamonmuseum will have a clear structure in terms of content: each collection, including the architectural exhibits associated with it, will be presented in one of the wings. That way, the Ancient Architectures Tour will be created on one exhibition level. When it opened in 1930, the then new exhibition venue was shared by four museums: the German Museum in the north wing, the Pergamonmuseum (Department of Antiquities) in the central structure, and the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Islamic Museum in the south wing. Part of the collections was destroyed during World War II, and many objects – including the frieze panels of the Pergamon Altar – were taken to the Soviet Union. Individual museum rooms were reopened from 1953 onward. However, all showrooms of the building were not reopened until the majority of confiscated objects had returned in 1958/59. Instead of the German Museum, the north wing henceforth accommodated the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of East Asian Art, and the Museum of European Cultures.

Pergamonmuseum in 1925 (photograph) Future view of the Pergamonmuseum (visualization)

Historical Views

Opening in 1930, the Pergamonmuseum was the last of the buildings on the Museum Island to be opened. It was designed by Alfred Messel from 1906 onward. After Messel’s death, it was built by Ludwig Hoffmann under extremely difficult conditions in terms of finance, cultural policy, and engineering. A fourth wing at the Kupfergraben and a portico in the central forum were not realized. Due to its unique exhibition program, the Pergamonmuseum quickly became one of the most visited museums in Berlin. It suffered heavy damage from airstrikes in 1945. Rebuilding measures were undertaken between 1948 and 1959. In the early 1980s, an entrance pavilion was built for the growing streams of visitors.

Entrances to the Pergamonmuseum and the Archaeological Promenade (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015

Entrances

The entrance situation of the Pergamonmuseum will significantly improve in the future. A new tempietto entrance in the Court of Honor will replace the pavilion, which was built between 1980 and 1982. From there, visitors will be able to either reach the main exhibition level or directly access the Archaeological Promenade. The north and south wings will be directly accessible from the Court of Honor via two new entrances. Visitors will reach the Court of Honor over a barrier-free bridge. In addition, there will be a direct access from the James-Simon-Galerie to the main exhibition level of the Pergamonmuseum featuring the Ancient Architectures Tour.

Fourth wing of the Pergamonmuseum (visualization)
© SPK / ART+COM, 2015

Daten und Fakten

  • Architect: Alfred Messel; after his death, continuation of the project by Ludwig Hoffmann
  • Built: 1907-1930
  • Opening: 1930
  • 1945: war damage on the roofs and architectural exhibits
  • 1948-1959: reconstruction
  • 2000: contest for renovation and extension
  • Architect: office of Prof. O.M. Ungers (deceased 2007)
  • 2003/04: museum briefly closed for urgent danger prevention measures
  • 2006/07: planning of design
  • 2009: commissioning of the Pergamonmuseum Working Group to plan the realization of the renovation based on drafts by the office of O.M. Ungers
  • 2013: beginning of complete extensive renovation (first phase of construction)