The Collection of Classical Antiquities of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) is one of the largest and most outstanding of its kind worldwide. Its holdings include works of Greek and Roman antiquity as well as archaeological finds from Cyprus and Etruria. The Collection of Classical Antiquities is housed at two sites: the Altes Museum, which is the collection’s original building, and the Pergamonmuseum. In addition, selected objects are exhibited in the Neues Museum.
Monumental Ancient Architecture in the Pergamonmuseum
In three central exhibition halls of the Pergamonmuseum, visitors can marvel at monumental 1:1 reconstructions of Greek and Roman buildings. In the future, these reconstructions will continue to be part of the experience of the Ancient Architectures Tour.
Sculptures and Minor Arts of Antiquity in the Altes Museum
In the Altes Museum, the core of the collection is currently displayed on two floors: Greek and Roman sculptures, vases, terracotta objects, bronzes, gold and silver jewelry, gems and cameos, as well as glass objects. In addition, the museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Etruscan art and culture outside Italy. The works of art of
art of antiquity are complemented by ancient coins from the Numismatic Collection. Since 2010/11, the Collection of Classical Antiquities exhibition in the Altes Museum has been shown in a new arrangement.
Presentation across Collections
Outstanding archaeological objects from the Collection of Classical Antiquities are also presented in the Neues Museum where they contribute to the presentations of the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Prehistory and Early History. Both presentations were opened in 2009. The focus is on finds from Cyprus and provinces of the Roman Empire. Important pieces from the Collection of Classical Antiquities are also exhibited in the central stairwell and in the rooms of the Archaeological Promenade.
Featuring monumental frieze panels at its base, the Pergamon Altar is a highlight of Hellenistic art. More than a hundred larger-than-life figures show the battle between the Olympic gods and the Giants. A second frieze on the interior walls tells the legend of Telephus. The Pergamon Altar was built between 175 and 159 BC. It was destroyed in early Byzantine times. In the course of late 19th-century excavations conducted at the Pergamon site in Asia Minor, Carl Humann found countless fragments of the altar. From these, the frieze was reassembled in Berlin. The western side of the altar with the flight of stairs was reconstructed. Both altar friezes were thoroughly restored between 1994 and 2004.
The Market Gate of Miletus, built around AD 100, gives an impression of the splendor of Roman cities in Asia Minor. It measures almost 17 meters in height and 29 meters in width. The well-preserved elements of the gate, which was destroyed by an earthquake, were recovered in the course of excavations (1903 – 1905) directed by the Berlin museums. Only few architectural elements needed to be added when the Gate was reconstructed in the late 1920s. It suffered heavy damage during World War II, was inadequately restored in the 1950s, and underwent a first phase of restoration between 2005 and 2008. Further restoration will be carried out in the course of the complete renovation of the Pergamonmuseum.
The so-called “Praying Boy” is one of the most famous bronze statues of antiquity. It was created around 300 BC in the artistic tradition of the Greek sculptor Lysippus. Discovered on the island of Rhodes, the “Praying Boy” was first brought to Venice and then became the property of the finance minister of King Louis XIV. In 1747, the bronze statue was purchased by Friedrich II and displayed in Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam. In 1807, Napoleon brought the “Praying Boy” to Paris, from where the statue came to the newly opened Altes Museum in 1830. This is where the “Praying Boy” now stands once again in the visual axis of the rotunda, just as it did back then.
The Altes Museum with its impressive colonnade is both the prelude and the entrance to the Museum Island. The entrance at the Lustgarten leads directly to the rotunda and the two exhibition levels featuring Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art. In the future, the presentation of the Collection of Classical Antiquities in the Pergamonmuseum can be reached via a new tempietto entrance at the historical entrance in the middle wing. In addition, the James-Simon-Galerie will be the central point of entrance to both museums. They are connected to each other by the Archaeological Promenade.