Museum Island (German: Museumsinsel) is the name of the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin, Germany, the site of the old city of Cölln. It is so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums, all part of the Berlin State Museums, that occupy the island’s northern part:
The Altes Museum (Old Museum) completed on the orders of Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1830.
The Neues Museum (New Museum) finished in 1859 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Schinkel. Destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt under the direction of David Chipperfield for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and re-opened in 2009.
The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) completed in 1876, also according to designs by Friedrich August Stüler, to host a collection of 19th century art donated by banker Joachim H. W. Wagener
The Bode Museum on the island’s northern tip, opened in 1904 and then called Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. It exhibits the sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art.
The Pergamon Museum, the final museum of the complex, constructed in 1930. It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
In 1999, the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
A first exhibition hall was erected in 1797 at the suggestion of the archaeologist Aloys Hirt. In 1822, Schinkel designed the plans for the Altes Museum to house the royal Antikensammlung, the arrangement of the collection was overseen by Wilhelm von Humboldt. The island, originally a residential area, was dedicated to “art and science” by King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841. Further extended under succeeding Prussian kings, the museum’s collections of art and archeology were turned into a public foundation after 1918. They are today maintained by the Berlin State Museums branch of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
Museum Island further comprises the Lustgarten park and the Berlin Cathedral. Between the Bode and Pergamon Museums it is crossed by the Stadtbahn railway viaduct. The adjacent territory to the south is the site of the former Stadtschloss and the Palace of the Republic.
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