The Brandenburg Museum (Märkisches Museum) is a museum of the history and culture of the federal state of Berlin. The museum is located on Am Köllnischen Park in Mitte, on the banks of the Spree River. Today it also houses the Berlin City Museum Fund.
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The Museum of the History of Berlin was founded in 1874. It was a time of rapid growth of the city in connection with the industrial revolution. The population of Berlin has doubled in 20 years and increased to 800 thousand. Large-scale construction on the one hand led to the destruction of the historical appearance and traditions of the city – on the other. Concerned about these trends, citizens interested in history founded the Historical Society of Berlin.
The collection of enthusiasts included photographs of the city, historical documents, certificates, coins, church art from Berlin and the surrounding Brandenburg region. The exhibits of the Historical Society were placed in the building of the city hall. In connection with the widespread construction in Berlin, new archaeological sites were discovered, which were sent to the historical museum. Over time, architectural fragments of historical buildings, as well as entire historical rooms, became part of the museum’s exposition. For the entire replenished collection, its own premises were already required.
The city parliament allocated a special fund for the construction of its own museum. From 1899 to 1908, the museum building was built on the territory of Cologne Park (am Köllnischen Park) according to the project of the chief architect of Berlin Ludwig Hoffmann.
It was the first museum in the world specially built for the historical city museum, and it was called until 2006 the Museum of the Brandenburg Province (Märkische Provinzial-Museum).
Architect Hoffman specially combined in one building elements of the most important historical architectural styles of Berlin, the Hanseatic cities of northern Germany and Brandenburg. The facade of the museum building is made in the style of brick Gothic, typical of the city halls of the Hanseatic cities, the tower with a four-gable roof is designed on the model of the main tower of the episcopal palace in Wittstock. In the courtyard there is a copy of the sculpture of the medieval knight Roland, as a symbol of the independence of the imperial Hanseatic cities.
In the new museum building, archaeological finds were placed on the ground floor, the Gothic chapel, the guild boardroom, the armory and other historical cultural and art objects of Berlin were recreated on the second floor.
During Nazi Germany, the building of the historical museum held auctions of art and antiques expropriated from the Jewish population of Berlin. At the beginning of World War II, the museum was closed, and valuables were removed. As a result of the bombing, the museum building was seriously damaged.
With the construction of the Berlin Wall, the building appeared on the territory of the eastern sector, the emphasis of the museum at that time was on demonstrating the advantages of the socialist system. Accordingly, in West Berlin opened its own historical museum with the opposite theme.
After the unification of Germany, two historical museums were combined. Today, the Brandenburg Museum houses more than 4.5 million exhibits.
Brandenburg Museum Collections
The collections of the Brandenburg Museum are grouped by topic and consist of permanent and temporary thematic displays.
Berlin and Brandenburg History (Stadt- und Landesgeschichte)
This part of the museum contains exhibits related to the history and culture of the city and the region – from archaeological finds to modern models and digital technologies.
The geological department, using more than 1,200 exhibits as an example, talks about the prehistoric period of the region – stones, minerals, traces of animals from the ice age.
The zoological department of the museum clearly demonstrates the representatives of the animal world living in Berlin and Brandenburg. The collection begins with exhibits collected from the beginning of the last century. Continuous work to supplement the meeting continues to this day. Models and stuffed animals, birds, eggs and nests of various species of birds, a collection of butterflies and insects, comprising more than 20 thousand exhibits, reptiles. A large exhibition is dedicated to the brown bear – the symbol of Berlin.
Archaeological finds from the Middle Ages and New History (Archäologische Funde aus dem Mittelalter und der Neuzeit)
The museum is especially proud of the exhibits discovered in 1898 in the so-called royal grave of Zeddin (Königsgrab von Seddin), dating back to 800 BC.