The Neues Museum (New Museum) is a museum in Berlin, Germany, located to the north of the Altes Museum (Old Museum) on Museum Island. It was built between 1843 and 1855 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The museum was closed at the beginning of World War II in 1939, and was heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin. The rebuilding was overseen by the English architect David Chipperfield. The museum officially reopened in October 2009 and received a 2010 RIBA European Award for its architecture.
Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collections, as it did before the war. The artifacts it houses include the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Both as a part of the Museum Island complex, and as an individual building, the museum testifies to the neoclassical architecture of museums in the 19th century. With its new industrialized building procedures and its use of iron construction, the museum plays an important role in the history of technology. Since the classical and ornate interiors of the Glyptothek and of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich were destroyed in World War II, the partly destroyed interior of the Neues Museum ranks among the last remaining examples of interior museum layout of this period in Germany.
The Neues Museum was the second museum to be built on Museum Island and was intended as an extension to house collections which could not be accommodated in the Altes Museum. Among these were collections of plaster casts, ancient Egyptian artifacts, the prehistoric and early historic collections, the ethnographic collection, and the collection of etchings and engravings). It is thus the "original source" of the collections in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. Moreover, the Neues Museum is an important monument in the history of construction and technology. With its various iron constructions, it is the first monumental building of Prussia to consistently apply new techniques made possible by industrialization. As a further innovation, a steam engine was used for the first time in construction in Berlin. Among other things, it was used to ram pilings into the building ground. The soft, spongy soil around the River Spree means that buildings in the central area of Berlin require deep foundations.
The museum was closed at the beginning of World War II in 1939. The destruction in the war followed these internal destructions of the original museum layout. In the bombardments on 23 November 1943, the central stairway and its frescos were burned, along with other great treasures of human history. In February 1945, Allied bombs destroyed the northwest wing as well as the connection to the Altes Museum and damaged the southwest wing as well as the south-east facade (risalit). In the post-war period, the ruin of the Neues Museum was left decaying for a long period of time. Other museums of the Museum Island used the least damaged areas of the building for storage. Reconstruction work was started in 1986 by the East German government, but it was halted after the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. In the process historical parts of the building were lost. For instance, the last remnants of the Egyptian courtyard were eliminated.
In 1997, planning for the reconstruction project was resumed and English architect David Chipperfield was officially appointed for the project. Sections and fragments of the building were taken out and put in storage. In June 2003 the Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs Christina Weiss, said on the occasion of the ceremony for the commencement of reconstruction of the museum, that the master plan had "nearly squared the circle: to emphasize the buildings as a historical inheritance, to logically direct the flow of the host of visitors, and to make ready... a modern infrastructure." In January 2006, Chipperfield handed over his completed Modern (German) Literature Museum to the German Literature Archives in Marbach am Neckar.
After the consolidation of the foundations and walls, the Neues building was reconstructed. This work was done within the framework of the Masterplan for Berlin's Museum Island, with a cost of approximately €295 million for the Neues Museum. The northwest wing and the south-east facade, which were completely destroyed in the war, have been reconstructed according to Chipperfield's plan, in a manner close to their original layout in the museum building. In March 2009, the museum briefly reopened to the public with its empty building; artifacts had not been installed at that time. On October 16, 2009, the museum officially reopened. At the reopening ceremony, the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel described Chipperfield's work as "impressive and extraordinary" and the museum as "one of the most important museum buildings in European cultural history". However, Chipperfield's construction design has been a subject of debates by those who preferred a more traditional reconstruction of Friedrich August Stüler 's original 19th-century design.A group called the Society of Ancient Berlin requested UNESCO in 2008 to put the Museum Island on the list of World Heritage Sites that are at danger of losing their status, seeing Chipperfield's architectural concept involving complete reconstructions as a form of cultural destruction.
The museum houses the Egyptian museum and papyrus collection with its famous bust of Queen Nefertiti and other works of art from the time of the king Akhenaten. Portions of another major collection, artifacts from the Stone Age and later prehistoric eras from the Museum of Pre- and Early History, are on display. Thus the collections of two Berlin museums have returned to their place of origin. As originally built (see map below), the Neues Museum was nearly rectangular, with the long axis of the building (105 m/344 ft) oriented north to south, parallel to Am Kupfergraben (the street to the west, across the River Spree), and a width of 40 meters (130 ft). The building is nearly perpendicular to the Altes Museum, with the Bodestraße between them. The bridge connecting the two museums (destroyed during World War II) was 6.9 m (23 ft) wide, 24.5 m (80 ft) long, and supported by three arches. The main stairway was located in the center of the building, which was the highest section (31 m/102 ft tall). The three main wings surround two interior courtyards, the Greek courtyard and the Egyptian courtyard. The northern Egyptian courtyard was covered with a glass ceiling from the beginning, but the southern Greek courtyard was first covered with a glass ceiling between 1919 and 1923.
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|Price||normal : 10.00 child : 5.00 (age <7) youth : 5.00 (age 7-18) student : 5.00 (age 18-26) retired : 5.00 (age 65<)|
|Geographical coordinates||52.5205560, 13.3977780|
|Address||Berlin, Bodestraße 1|
|Construction dates||1843 - 1855|
|More information||official website|