Germany is investing more than 233 million to renovate Museum Island in Berlin reports Spiegel Online. Coming soon is the new home for the Nefertiti Bust and the vast collection of Egyptian artefacts. As it seems with all the new Museums these days, the architecture of the building itself is as noteworthy as the collection. Berlin is hoping that more than 4.0 million people will visit each year, which will make it a top destination for Ancient World explorers and a serious challenge to the British Museum.
Spiegel explains: “When the Neues Museum reopens in October, the city’s famous Egyptian collection, evacuated from the building before the war, will be returned to its original home for the first time since 1939. It includes one of Berlin’s most famous artifacts, the bust of Queen Nefertiti.” Neferititi is in her own special hall–so I guess at least a few people think it is authentic or at least so iconic that it is important anyway. More about the overall plan for Berlin Museums on their official site (watch their very cool 3D walkthrough movie).
The British Museum continues to see massive museum visits reporting more than 6.0 million people coming in 2007/2008 and 2009/2010 could be equally strong as well (BMstats here). The Louvre gets more than 8.0 million visitors per year, but of course they have a large non-ancient world collection also. The Metropolitan in New York hosts more than 5.0 million visits per year, but again, they also have a very broad collection. So it really does seem that the big league Ancient World museum battle will be between Germany and England–at least until the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) opens circa 2013 AD (but of course that will be only Egyptian artefacts).
I made a fast blast through the Altes and Pergamon Museums and the collections are outstanding and overwhelming. Ihad actually been to the Pergamon Museum in 1984 when it was the trophy of East Berlin. It is quite impressive to see the Great Pergamon Altar (again). It gives a major impact when you can walk up the steps and get a sense of the structure. The scale model also helps you understand the epic nature of the original building which held the frieze showing the dramatic battle of the Greek Gods against the Giants. “The Gigantomachy” is a fierce scene. For me, it is much more exciting than the Elgin Marbles.
But there are also several other large scale structures inside Pergamon–including the technocolor Ishtar Gate and Processional Way and the Market Gate of Miletus.
If you visit Berlin’s Museum island, wear comfortable shoes and be ready to get transported to the ancient world. (If you aren’t in Berlin you can kick-off your shoes and visit our Virtual King Tut now!)