The Museum Island Master Plan agreed upon in 1999 has a historical precursor: quite early on there were plans to create a museum complex on the Spree Island. In 1841, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia ordered that “the entire Spree Island behind the museum be redeveloped into a sanctuary for art and science.”
Historical Overall Concept for the Museum Island
The Historical Precursor to the Master Plan
By the year he said that, the first museum on the island had already been open for eleven years: the Royal Museum, today’s Altes Museum. Behind it was a commercial area, the customs warehouses, which gradually gave way to the new museums built in the years that followed.
Based on the king’s sketches, the architect Friedrich August Stüler designed a plan in 1841 that specified the basic structure of the future museum complex. Stüler was a student of the architect of the Altes Museum, Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Both the Neues Museum and today’s Alte Nationalgalerie were constructed according to Stüler’s plans. When a railroad bridge was built across the Spree Island in 1882, a new situation was created on the tip of the island. This had to be taken into account by the architects of the buildings constructed after that. Hence, the Bode-Museum faces north and the Pergamonmuseum is oriented westward.