Museum Island is a unique ensemble of buildings on Spreeinsel (Spree Island) in the heart of Berlin. It encompasses five large Berlin museums built under the Prussian rulers as well as a reception and exhibition building, the James Simon Gallery, opened in 2019.
The Museum Island is named after the complex of internationally important museums that occupy the island’s northern portion, all of which are part of the Berlin State Museums:
When the Altes Museum (Old Museum) was established on August 3, 1830, it was known as the Königliches Museum until 1841, when it was renamed. Karl Friedrich Schinkel ordered the museum to be finished.
The Neues Museum (New Museum) was completed in 1859, based on designs by Friedrich August Stüler, a Schinkel pupil. It was destroyed during World War II but was reconstructed for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin under the direction of David Chipperfield and reopened in 2009.
The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) was built in 1876 to house a collection of 19th-century art donated by banker Joachim H. W. Wagener. It was also designed by Friedrich August Stüler.
The Bode Museum, located on the island’s northern tip, was established in 1904 and was previously known as the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. The sculpture collections, as well as late Antique and Byzantine art, are on display.
In 1930, the Pergamon Museum was established. It houses a number of restored massive and historically important structures, including the Pergamon Altar and Babylon’s Ishtar Gate.
The Humboldt Forum, which will open in 2020 in the Berlin Palace opposite the Lustgarten park, will house the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and the Museum of Asian Art, both of which are successor institutions to the Ancient Prussian Art Chamber, which was established in the mid-16th century and was also housed in the Berlin Palace.