The Pergamon Museum (Pergamonmuseum) is one of the most significant museums of the Museum Island in Berlin. The museum is located on the Spree River in the city center. This is the most popular museum in Berlin. More than 1 million people visit it annually. The Pergamon Museum is primarily famous for its architectural reconstructions from the antique, no longer existing cities of Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, the Middle East – Pergamum, Babylon, Miletus and others.
The basis of the collection of the Pergamon Museum was laid by the Elector of Brandenburg Frederick William I. King of Prussia Frederick the Great was able to seriously expand the collection of antiquity, which was kept in the halls of the palace of Sans Souci, in the palace park and in the ancient temple in Potsdam.
In the middle of the 18th century, under the influence of popular unrest and humanistic ideas that became popular in society, it was decided to make the royal collections of art accessible to the public. The first museum building was built in 1901, but foundation defects were soon identified, and the building was demolished.
The director of the royal museums, Wolfgang von Bode, took part in the design of the second building. The project of the museum was carried out by the famous architect Alfred Messel. The construction that began in 1912 was frozen in connection with the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent financial crisis. By 1930, the museum building was still completed.
Beginning in 1875, to supplement the collection, the museum conducted its own archaeological excavations in Olympia, then in Pergamum, Miletus, Priene, Baalbek and Magnesia on Meander, Babylon, Ashshur, Uruk, Shuruppak and other places in southern Europe and Asia. The results of the expeditions were amazing and huge. The new museum building was designed to accommodate antique architectural masterpieces, more than ten meters high.
As a result of painstaking reconstruction of such archaeological ensembles as the Pergamon Altar, the market gate of Miletus, the Babylonian procession road and the facade of Ishtar, the Pergamon Museum has gained worldwide fame.
Gate of the Miletus Market, 100 AD, Ancient Rome, © Radoslaw Piekarz
Pergamon Museum Collections
The Pergamon Museum houses three collections of state museums in Berlin: the Antique Collection, the Asian Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art.
The antique collection of the Pergamon Museum belongs to the most important world collections of ancient Greek and Roman architectural art.
The main exhibit of the collection gave the name of the museum itself – this is the Pergamon Altar. Built in the period from 180 to 160 BC, the temple altar from the city of Pergamum is attributed to the masterpieces of the art of ancient Greece. The sculptural frieze on the facade of the temple demonstrates the struggle of the Olympic gods with the giants.
A brilliant example of ancient Roman art are the gates of the market in Miletus, dating back to 100 AD.
Collections of the Asian Museum
The Asian Museum holds evidence of a six-thousand-year-old cultural history of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia. About 270,000 objects are located on the ground floor of the southern wing of the Pergamon Museum.
The main exhibit of this department of the museum is the architectural reconstruction of Ishtar Gate and the elements of the adjacent Procession Roads in Babylon, fragments of the Tower of Babel, as well as the facade of the throne room of Nebuchadnezzar II, dating back to the 6th century BC.
No less important are the exhibits related to the first evidence of the written language of mankind at the end of the 4th century BC forms for seals, cylindrical seals and cuneiform tablets found in Uruk.
Museum of Islamic Art
The collection of the Museum of Islamic Art of the Pergamon Museum is the largest collection outside the Islamic world. It combines archaeological exhibits and objects of applied art of the East, starting from the Middle Ages.
The museum’s department was based on the frieze from the caliph’s palace in Mshatt (Jordan, circa 740), donated to German Kaiser William II by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid II.
The so-called “room from Aleppo” with its painted wall plates from a private house (Syria, 1600), the dome from the Alhambra Palace (Granada), as well as precious carpets of the 15th, 16th centuries are unique.
The museum entered the new building of the Pergamon Museum on the top floor and opened in 1932.
Currently, part of the museum exhibits is being restored.
The Pergamon Altar, one of the most famous exhibits of the museum, is under restoration until 2023.
A part of the Near Asian Museum (excluding the Pergamon Altar), Ishtar Gate, the market gate from Miletus and the Islamic Museum with the facade of the palace in Mshatta are available for inspection.