Berlin is certainly not lacking in architecturally acclaimed museums. There’s Mies van der Rohe’s New National Gallery and Daniel Liebeskind’s Jewish Museum, to name but two. And the excellence of the city’s artistic and cultural collections is also well established. The long awaited re-opening of the Neues Museum last fall, however, has raised the bar on both fronts. David Chipperfield’s masterful renovation of the 19th century museum, the second to be built on Berlin’s Museum Island and severely damaged in WWII, revives what remained of Friedrich August Stüler’s richly ornamented and historically inspired interior while filling in the gaps with Chipperfield’s characteristic clarity and force.
The impressive mix of materials includes fragments of frescoes, marble columns and floors, mosaic, coffered ceilings or painted cupolas set in a graceful counterpoint with polished and unpolished cement, recycled bricks, wood and metal. And what of the art? The space showcases Berlin’s Egyptian, pre-and early-history and classical antiquities collections. And while Nefertiti may still be the reigning queen, she now has hoards of competition. If it wasn’t already a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site (since 1999), the Neues Museum in its new form would merit a similar distinction. Visitors are advised to buy tickets with a specific time slot online to avoid waiting outside in the cold. And for those in need of other nourishment while within its walls, the cafe is tiny but also worth a visit.
— Melissa Drier
Neues Museum 3 Bodestrasse 10178 (Mitte)