The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums) are amongst the top cultural collections and art galleries in the world. The collections cover a wide spectrum of topics of astonishing quality and include artifacts and art from all corners of the world.
Most of Berlin’s State Museums are located either on Museum Island in the heart of Berlin-Mitte or in the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz to the south of Tiergarten. Further major museums are the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art near the main station and smaller museums near Charlottenburg and Dahlem. The Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum are the most popular state museums in Berlin.
All Berlin state museums are open in 2022. Time-slot reservations are essential only for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum, and Das Panorama. Timeslots are currently released only around four weeks in advance. Buy tickets and make reservations online at GetYourGuide or at SMB. Online tickets for museums without timeslot reservations are skip-the-line — go directly to the entrance to scan the ticket. Many multiple-museum tickets and passes are again accepted. The 3-day Berlin Museum Pass is excellent value.
See Update for Opening Hours of the Berlin State Museums (2022) for the latest information.
Buying museum tickets online from Tiqets or GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Also, note the large selection of museum passes and savings options.
State Museums in Berlin Mitte, Museumsinsel
Berlin’s Museum Island is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and houses some of the most popular museums in Berlin. The museums here were built between 1830 and 1930 but heavily damaged during the Second World War. Since 1990, all have been restored but work continues and further buildings are being added to make Berlin’s Museum Island the largest museum complex in Europe.
- The Pergamon Museum is the most popular museum in Berlin. It encompasses the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Museum of Ancient Near Eastern Art. (Rolling restoration of the museum will see different sections closed until around 2025, the Pergamon Altar hall is closed but some sculptures may be seen in the Panorama exhibition.)
- The Altes (Old) Museum houses a large part of Berlin’s famed Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) and part of the Numismatic Collection.
- The Bode Museum houses the Collection of Sculptures, the Museum of Byzantine Art, and most of the Numismatic Collection.
- The Neues (New) Museum houses the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History. Its top attraction is the bust of Queen Nefertiti, the most-famous Egyptian artwork in Germany.
- The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) displays mostly 19th-century European art.
- The Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (Church) is close to Museumsinsel and exhibits mostly 19th-century sculptures. (Admission free.)
Humboldt Forum on Museum Island
- Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berlin Schloss hosts several museums, exhibition spaces, and cultural events. The two main permanent SMB museums here are the Etnologisches Museum (Ethnology) with half a million items from non-European continents and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art) with a vast collection of art from especially the Indian subcontinent, Japan, Korea, and China. Admission to parts of the building and some exhibitions is free. Note that these two museums follow the opening hours and ticket system of the Humboldt Forum and are not included in the Museum Island pass or other SMB tickets.
State Museums in Berlin Tiergarten – Kulturforum
The Kulturforum is to the south of Tiergarten, across the road from the Berlin Philharmonie, and close to the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. The buildings here were mostly purpose-built during and shortly after the Cold War.
- The Gemäldegallerie (Picture Gallery) has an astonishing collection of European Old Masters paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries including 16 works by Rembrandt and a fantastic Italian Renaissance display. It is one of the greatest art collections in the world.
- The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) has 20th-century European paintings and sculptures mostly from pre-1970.
- The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) is the largest of its kind in Germany with over 500,000 prints and 110,000 drawings spanning works by Dürer to Andy Warhol.
- The Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) has around 350,000 volumes.
- The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts) has a high-quality collection of items ranging from the Middle Ages to the present.
- The Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Musical Instruments) is not part of the state museums but worth seeing and shared the same Kulturforum ticket.
Berlin State Museums in Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg was the center of West Berlin museums but since the reunification of Berlin, this area has lost most of its top collections to Museum Island. The remaining museums are small but have some top-quality specialized collections:
- The Museum Berggruen (closed until 2025) displays classical modern works. At the heart of the collection are over 100 works by Pablo Picasso and 20 by Henri Matisse.
- The Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection focuses on surrealism with works by amongst others Goya, Dalí, and Max Ernst
- The Gipsformerei (Replica Workshop) uses plaster of Paris to reproduce famous works.
- Museum für Fotografie (Photography) is physically closer to Zoologsicher Garten station. It is used to display the vast collection of photos owned by different museums.
State Museums in Berlin Dahlem – Museen Dahlem
Of the previous three museums in Dahlem, only the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (European Cultures) remained in this suburb in southwestern Berlin. This museum focuses on everyday life from the 18th century to the present.
The more famous non-European collections moved to the Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss on Museum Island.
Hamburger Bahnhof and Schloss Köpenick in Berlin
- The very popular Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is close to the new Hauptbahnhof. It houses the impressive Berlin Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Schloss Köpenick to the southeast of Berlin has part of the Decorative Arts Collection focusing on European furniture and decorations from the Renaissance to Rococo.
Berlin’s State Museums are easily reached on public transportation: the Kulturforum on bus 200 or any train to Potsdamer Platz, Museumsinsel on bus 100, bus 300, and U-Bahn U5, Charlottenburg by S-Bahn train, and Dahlem by U-Bahn train.
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2023. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum and Das Panorama. Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes or multi-museum tickets are again available. Individual museum ticket prices range from €6 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museums and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museums: What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- New Opening Hours of Berlin State Museum (2023).
Regular opening hours not currently in use: Berlin State Museums Opening Hours (9 to 5 was always going to be too simple)
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for the most popular museum!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums in three days for €29 – a fantastic savings deal. Buy at Tiqets as an instant-use mobile ticket.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English).
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2022 — overview, in the Kulturforum (David Hockney), in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museumsinsel, Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art, and the Museum of Photography.
- The Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss opened with exhibitions by various museums. The Ethnological and Asian Art museums fully opened on 17 September 2022 — admission is still free and currently without the need to book a timeslot.
- The Gemäldegallerie is partly closed until September 2023 but at least 75% is open at any given time.
More Museums Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings.
- Altes Museum with Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art.
- Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldtforum.
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche with free collection of 19th-century German sculptures.
- Gemäldegalerie with its collection of German and Dutch Old Masters and Italian paintings.
- Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts)
- Musical Instruments Museum near the Berliner Philharmonie.
- Neue Nationalgalerie with early 20th-century art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2021 — including the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldt Forum.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.