2023: Berlin Museum Island Special Temporary Exhibitions

Special temporary exhibitions in 2023 on Museum Island Berlin include treasures from Uzbekistan and Egypt, Indian court music, and art of the Succession (Klimt, Liebermann).

Detail Klimt, Pallas Athene2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© Birgit und Peter Kainz, Wien Museum

The museums on Berlin’s Museumsinsel will have special exhibitions in 2023 in addition to their fantastic permanent collections. The art highlight of 2023 is a large, 200-painting Successions exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie — it will have works by amongst others Max Lieberman, Franz von Stuck, and 50 works by Gustav Klimt. Two archaeological exhibitions will show relatively new finds from Uzbekistan and Egypt. The Indian court music exhibition and Transmundane Economies are more specialized but worth seeing as they are included in regular admissions. Time-slot reservation tickets are essential for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamonmuseum, Pergamon Panorama, and Neues Museum. Online tickets for the Altes Museum and Bode-Museum also allow for skip-the-line access — go directly to the gallery entrance with printout or mobile tickets. The Berlin Welcome Card with Museum Island entry and the Berlin Museum Pass are also great value.

Exhibitions on Museum Island Berlin 2023

The galleries and exhibition halls of the State Museums Berlin (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) are grouped for tickets and opening hours into the following main buildings:

Although some state museums are in the Humbold Forum, this venue is managed separately and not included in Museuminsel combination tickets.


Best Art Exhibition on Museum Island Berlin in 2023

The top art exhibition on Museum Island, and arguably one of the best in Berlin in 2023, is the Successions display in the Alte Nationalgalerie — it will have 200 paintings, sculptures, and graphic works including 50 by Gustav Klimt. Several further temporary art exhibitions are arranged by the State Museum in various venues in Berlin in 2023 with many in the museums at Kulturforum and the Neue Nationalgalerie.

Secessions. Klimt, Stuck, Liebermann

Klimt, Pallas Athene 2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© Birgit und Peter Kainz, Wien Museum

23 June – 22 October 2023 in the Alte Nationalgalerie

The emergence of the Secession movements in the late 19th century triggered no less than a revolution in the art world. This proto-Modernist moment was inextricably linked with Gustav Klimt in Vienna, while in Munich and Berlin, the protagonists were Franz von Stuck and Max Liebermann respectively. The Secession movements emerged in the German-speaking world in close succession with one another – in 1892 in Munich, 1897 in Vienna, and finally in Berlin in 1898 – and all featured a significant overlap in terms of the key protagonists.

Rejecting the outmoded structures of government support and exhibition systems in which selection panels applied the criteria of the royal art academies, these artists strove for freedom. Though their individual artistic approaches were by no means unified, this artistic vanguard sought to foster the vibrancy and diversity of artistic forms of expression, with a decidedly international outlook.

The exhibition comprises some 200 paintings, sculptures, and graphic works by a range of artists. Through a collaboration with the Wien Museum, Klimt’s oeuvre will form the focus of the exhibition, with more than 50 works on display. The show will also shine a spotlight on some of the women artists of the Secession movements, from Dora Hitz to Käthe Kollwitz.

Secessionen. Klimt, Stuck, Liebermann is a special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Buy skip-the-line tickets online for the Alte Nationalgalerie — time-slot reservations are usually not essential but might be needed for this exhibition.

Top Museum Island Berlin Exhibitions in 2023

From Alexander the Great to the Kushan Empire Archaeological Treasures from Uzbekistan

Terracotta from Uzbekistan 2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© Foto: Hans Jakobi

April – October 2023 in the Neues Museum + James-Simon-Galerie

Long before the territory of Uzbekistan gained a profile as a station along the Silk Road, during antiquity, important centers of culture and regional power formed there. This exhibition features objects dating from the time of Alexander the Great through to the period of the Kushan Empire, many of which are being displayed outside of Uzbekistan for the very first time.

In addition to archaeological evidence documenting the presence of the Macedonians from fortresses that were only analyzed and investigated in the last few years, the most fascinating objects are the unique examples of Kushan art. In addition to portraits of the aristocratic rulers in the south of Uzbekistan, it is primarily the early Buddhist art that offers audiences a surprising and entrancing experience.

The display is capped off by objects that illustrate Alexander’s path from Macedonia through the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Video material and computer animations also help to convey a vibrant image of the cultural landscape of Uzbekistan between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD.

Von Alexander dem Großen bis zum Reich der Kuschan Archäologische Schätze aus Usbekistan is a special exhibition of the Museum für Vorund Frühgeschichte – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in collaboration with the Art and Culture Development Foundation in Uzbekistan.

Music and Indian Courtly Life

Musik und Spiel beim Frühjahrsfest Holi 2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst / Johannes Kramer

28 April – 2 July 2023 in the Pergamonmuseum

The book art collection of the Museum für Islamische Kunst is internationally renowned for its collection of Indian albums, comprising more than 450 individual sheets. Courtly and garden scenes featuring rulers and courtly ladies in splendid garb constitute an extremely popular motif in these works.

Many of these scenes include depictions of musicians and their instruments, underscoring the fact that music was an indispensable accompaniment to courtly life.

The exhibition explores the question of which occasions music was played on, and who played it. Not content with mere visual depictions of music, there will also be audio examples of classical Indian music for audiences to listen to.

Musik am indischen Hof is a special exhibition of the Museum für Islamische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Stroke of Luck or Emergency Rescue? The Newly Discovered Tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa North

2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© QHN-mission / Sandra Steiß

Mid-September 2023 – March 2024 in the Neues Museum

During the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, archaeological looters stumbled upon a number of previously undiscovered rock-cut tombs in Aswan, not far from the world-famous necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa. Since 2015, a team from the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung has been working in close collaboration with Egyptian colleagues from the Aswan Inspectorate, carrying out research on the site of Qubbet el-Hawa North. The undertaking is being funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and by generous support from the Förderverein des Ägyptischen Museums e.V. and its board of trustees.

Over the course of five field trips, 10 graves have so far been excavated and documented, which have been dated as belonging to the Old and New Kingdoms. They formed part of the previously unknown elite cemetery of the settlement(s) in greater Aswan. The special exhibition at the Ägyptisches Museum offers an insight into the most recent research findings and shows the efforts of all involved in investigating this unique piece of cultural history and in helping to preserve it for coming generations.

Glücks- oder Notfall? Die neuentdeckten Gräber auf der Qubbet el-Hawa Nord is a special exhibition of the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Transmundane Economies Virtual Reconstruction of an Iconostasis from Cyprus

Transmundane Economies 2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst / Antje Voigt

November 2023 – January 2024 in the Bode-Museum

As part of his project Transmundane Economies, the Cypriot contemporary artist Thedoulos Polyviou is developing a virtual re-creation of an iconostasis from the 18th century held in the collection of the Bode-Museum, parts of which are on display in the Berlin Museum, with others in the Ikonenmuseum in Frankfurt. In doing so, he enters into a dialogue with this once-sacred object. To do so, he uses immersive media as ceremonial tools for activating the iconostasis. Around it, an ephemeral “holy space” is created, to which the iconostasis once gave access in its role as an architectural portal.

Transmundane Economies is an ongoing project of the artist, in which virtual reality and associated technologies are used to investigate and reconstruct gaps in Cyprus’s cultural heritage. His aim in doing so is not nationalist in nature, but rather to investigate the relationships between queerness, repair, and reinvention within the historical entanglements of the island.

Transmundane Economies. Virtuelle Rekonstruktion einer Ikonostase aus Zypern is a special exhibition of the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst.

More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):

Note new opening times for many Berlin museums from mid-April 2024. Timeslot reservations are essential only for the Caspar David Friedrich exhibition (until 4 August 2024) but sensible (and sometimes needed in busy periods!) for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Pergamon – Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!). Timeslots are released only a few weeks in advance. Online tickets are available from GetYourGuide, which seems to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out. Many passes and multi-museum tickets are again sold (Kulturforum / Museums Island). Individual museum ticket prices range from €8 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code but pick up free audioguides first.

For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:

News & Temporary Exhibitions:

More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:

Previous Temporary Exhibitions:

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Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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