Opening of James Simon Gallery: Modernism begins on Museum Island – Newspaper Today

The series of thin white columns above the copper trench also does not require any more. The new, radiant lobby lounge at the Museum Island hides the breathtaking view of the new museum, which was reopened with enthusiasm ten years ago. The recovery of the ruins of war by Chipperfield Architects is now followed by the inauguration of the additional building, the James Simon Gallery. Their simple order of columns extends the rows of classical colonnades of the museum island from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Presumably in 1830, the classical rigor of the Old Museum column front on the Lustgarten had an equally cool and disconcerting effect on Berliners. Behind her opened a new world: the first art museum in Berlin, architecturally impressive with its magnificent view of the Lustgarten and with a dome-shaped room, which counterbalanced the temple of the Roman Pantheon to Prussia.

The task of the museum was "to awaken and elevate the sense of art," was his architect Schinkel. As was the case when creating the university twenty years ago, a place of humanistic education was to be created in the middle of the growing metropolis in order to contribute to the improvement of social conditions .

This vision was so contagious that in 1841 King Frederick William IV ordered the entire industrial area behind the Altes Museum to be turned into a "sanctuary of the arts and sciences".

The island museum in the historic center of Berlin is one of the most important museums complexes of Europe.Photo: pa / / Robert Grahn

Thus, until 1930, the year of the opening of the Pergamon Museum, the Museum Island, as we know it, emerged in the form of a Prussian Acropolis with five major Art temples, exposed in a picturesque way by their location at the water's edge and shaken every few minutes by the city's railway trains. cut. While Berlin was expanding to an industrial metropolis, capital of the Reich and city of four million inhabitants, it brought together in the center the most beautiful testimonies of cultures of the past.

By presenting the history of humanity in modern Berlin, it has enrolled in a millennial tradition. In other older cities, the great cathedrals fulfilled this function. The Enlightenment project of the Island of Museums, however, was polytheistic and pluralistic. Here, meeting with the many creations of the human spirit should provide guidance, encouragement and comfort to all citizens.

Fight for the reorganization of the Berlin museum landscape

A hundred years were planned, crafted and built on Museum Island, and once it was completed, it was quickly closed to the public, as the Second World War began. He left a landscape of ruins. However, the vision of a "sanctuary for art and science" was indestructible. She has survived all the changes in the political system and all ideologies.

The GDR reconstructed at best the Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum, the Pergamonmuseum and the Alte Museum, completely destroyed by fire during the last days of the war. The foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Neues Museum was also laid in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.

A decade of fierce fighting ensued around the reorganization of Berlin's museum landscape and the future of Museum Island. A contest did not produce a consensual result. At the end of a tormenting search process, however, a master plan agreed by all concerned parties has been implemented gradually with federal funding since 1999. The same year, UNESCO declared the 39, Museum Island on the World Heritage List.

The new reception building, the James Simon Gallery, is the most serious intervention in the appearance of the Museum Island. The sixth house of the island includes services such as wickets, locker rooms, restrooms, shops, restaurants, a conference room and special exhibition spaces. The infrastructure required for expected visitor flows can no longer be integrated into existing museum buildings. Last year, nearly 2.5 million visitors visited the island of museums, although the Pergamon Museum was closed due to renovation.

The entrance to the Museum Island – James Simon Gallery
1 of 18Photo: Thilo Rückeis12.01.2018 09:40View of the James Simon Gallery, the new entrance building of the Berlin Museum Island Berlin-Mitte.

An underground passageway, the Archaeological Walkway, will link the old and new museums, the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum in the future. The James Simon Gallery is moored half way to this new development system. A breakthrough links the station building to the Pergamon Museum, whose courtyard is enclosed by a fourth wing at Kupfergraben. Individual museums will also have separate entrances. Also to avoid snakes like the Louvre Pyramid of Paris.

The opening of the James Simon Gallery takes place six years later than planned because of muddy subsoil-related issues, but it now indicates that: The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation is on the mountain with the implementation of its master plan. At the Pergamon Museum, the closing ceremony took place in May.

Once installed, the old museum still needs to be renovated. There is no schedule for this until now. Next year, the Humboldt Forum will be open, which will usefully complement the Museum Island collections with non-European cultures. So, the big plan works. The fact that everything is not on time and that everything is ready was already in the time of Schinkel. Miracles just take a little longer.

Culture Tips


One ticket – five museums, it is probably only in Berlin. For the price of 18 euros can be visited in one day Pergamon Museum, New Museum, Altes Museum, Bode Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie. So, if you wish, you can walk from the Ishtar Gate to Nefertiti, discover the collection of antiques with the gold treasure, admire the Byzantine art and then admire the masterpieces of Caspar David Friedrich .


This is the new hub for visitors to Museum Island, but more than just a reception or even a ticket room. Until July 28, an exhibition entitled "The art of knowingly giving" presents its namesake, James Simon (1851-1932), collector, patron and benefactor. He participated in social and cultural projects, financed "popular baths for the workers" and built two unique collections, which he donated to Berlin's museums in 1904 and 1918.

The "lying lion" from the collection of Rudolf Mosse.Photo: David von Becker


James Simon, like the publisher Rudolf Mosse (1843-1920), was of Jewish religion. With the "Liege Löwen" of the sculptor August Gaul, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin located in the lobby of the new gallery recalls the expropriation of the Mosse family by the Nazis. The lion belonged to the important art collection of mosses.


Tomorrow at ten o'clock, the James Simon Gallery will be open to the public. The entrance is free. Until 9 pm, the new attraction of the city will be duly celebrated, with guided tours, workshops for children and families and many concerts.


The exhibition "Gustave Caillebotte, painter and patron of Impressionism" can be admired at the Alte Nationalgalerie until September 15, while the Bode Museum presents works of art by the artist. Awesome African art until November 24th. For "strong guys", Greek portraits of antiquity, there is more time. The exhibition at the Altes Museum lasts until February 20, 2020.

Good for the talks: the Kolonnadenbar.Photo: SMB / Valerie Schmidt

To laugh

The colonnade bar located in the colonnade courtyard of the Museum Island is ideal for a successful summer evening with interesting guests, stimulating discussions and cool drinks. Every Thursday (until August 15) is the perfect place. Each evening starts with a lecture at 7 pm, then DJs are installed. The theme of this year's series is "Neighborhoods": the presenter, Jenni Zylka, discusses her perspective on the island of museums with guests. (kai)