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 – both require time-slot reservations (free).
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. (It is due to re-open spring 2020.)
- Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berlin Schloss will open in 2020 with the ethnological and Asian art collections previously housed in Dahlem. The Etnologisches Museum (Ethnology) has half a million items from non-European continents while the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art) has a vast collection of art from especially the Indian subcontinent, Japan, Korean, and China.
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. 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. (Closed since 2015 for renovations.)
- 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 Museum Berggruen display 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 and will reopen in 2020.
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.
- In Schloss Köpenick to the southeast of Berlin is part of the Decorative Arts Collection focusing on European furniture and decorations from the Renaissance to Rococo.
More on the Berlin State Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museum and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museum What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- 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 Tiqets or GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and cost the same as the official museum website.
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums in three days for €29 – a fantastic savings deal.
- The Welcome Berlin Card All-Inclusive is pricy but includes admission to all museums and top sights.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English)
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, and smaller museums.
- For special contemporary art exhibitions in 2019 in Berlin see the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart and
- Top Temporary Art Exhibition in Berlin for other major special exhibitions in 2019.
- The Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss should open during 2020.
- The Friederichswerdersche Kirche will reopen spring 2020, as an exhibition space for sculptures of the Alte Nationalgalerie.
- The James Simon Gallery opened in summer 2019 and is an additional entrance to the Pergamon and Neues Museum.
- The Neue Nationalgalerie with twentieth-century art (up to 1970) remains closed for renovations.
More Museums Reviews and Museum Specific Information: