Determining the TOP 9 ICONIC MUSEUMS in Berlin is no easy task. This city has so many great museums. Some say Berlin has about 200 museums and most of them are super interesting. That puts Berlin up there among the cities with an incredible museum line up.
This post covers our absolute favourite 9 iconic Museums. The ones one must absolutely not miss when visiting or exploring Berlin (time allowing). On another post we will cover our favourite “smaller” and less known museums. One a third post we will share our favourite art galleries and spaces. We will always keep the lists short as it can get overwhelming. That, however, should give you PLENTY to see and explore.
As there is A LOT already published about each and every one of them, we will only briefly describe them and give you a couple of tips on things/perspectives not to miss. It is easy to get “museums-out” so our suggestion is to pick 1 or 2 from each list.
We also publish an interactive map to help you move around the city and know how close/far you are from the sites. ENJOY!
One general tip: if you are pressed for time or have no patience going through museums we recommend you AT LEAST enter the Museums Atria. Most of them are super peaceful and extremely grand. That may actually inspire you to explore a few of them. : )
TOP 9 ICONIC MUSEUMS – BERLIN
– PERGAMON MUSEUM-
The “mother” of all Berlin Museums houses original sized (Jaw dropping) reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and Market Gate of Miletus (all consisting of parts transported from Turkey). Our favourite monument is the Ishtar Portal (from Babylon). WOW a million times WOW! The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle Eastern museum and the Museum of Islamic Art. The temporary exhibits are usually incredible and worth the visit. The museum is currently undergoing major renovations and about 80% of the collection is not accessible. It is still worth the visit. Be patient with the lines to get in. To avoid waiting times get there right before it opens. Crowd picks up after 11AM. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– GERMAN HISTORY MUSEUM (DEUTSCHES HISTORISCHES MUSEUM)
An incredible immersion into this country’s rich history. Make sure you explore the whole building, including the Anex. This is a great museum to begin your trip through Berlin with. It will help you understand a lot about this country’s and city’s history. The architecture alone is worth the visit. The museum is huge and the content is presented on a timeline fashion, so skip the periods that don’t interest you. We breeze through the early periods and spend a lot more time exploring from “The German Empire” (1870) onwards. Make sure to budget time for the temporary exhibits in the Anex. They are simply AMAZING!! There are usually no long lines to get into this museum. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– NEUES MUSEUM
The Neues is one of the most visited museums in Berlin and is also located in the Museum Island. It was completely restored and renovated by famous architect David Chipperfield. And the result is stunning! Do not miss the amazing internal atrium and the awesome design of the staircase. Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory/Early History collections. Among the iconic artefacts it houses the Nefertiti bust. We love it!! The number of visitors is restricted and the experience is always nice. The flipped is that you must get in earlier so avoid waiting too long to get in. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– ALTE NATIONALGALERIE
The Alte Nationalgalerie showcases one of the most important collections of 19th century painting, including works from Friedrichs, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Menzel and Bröcklin. Not only is the collection interesting but also the Museum itself. The architecture is neoclassical in the style of a Greek temple. It was completely renovated in 2001. Super pretty! It is also part of the Museum Island and it is often less busy than some of the other museums. If you would like to explore a majestic museum and not stand in a long line, this is a great option. The temporary exhibits are also very well curated and delightful. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– NEUE NATIONALGALERIE
Hands down our favourite art space in Berlin. This museum is located off the Potsdamer Platz area. The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) is a museum of modern art with a clear focus on the early 20th century (showcased underground). There are also some amazing mid century works. The temporary exhibits are simply sensational and usually take place inside the see through glass structure. The awesome building and sculpture gardens were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It opened in 1968 and is now undergoing extensive renovation until 2018. Sorry. It is completely closed to the public. We do recommend a visit to check out the amazing building, though! Walk around it and feel Mies van der Rohe’s genius! MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– ALTES MUSEUM
Another museum housed at the amazing Museum Island is the Altes Museum. This impressive museum showcases the Antique Collection of the Berlin State Museums. Do not miss the pantheon-like rotunda and sky light. It is jaw-dropping gorgeous! The building was designed by famous German architect Friedrich Schinkel and is considered one of his most important neoclassical works. This museum also has temporary exhibits that are absolutely worth it. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– JEWISH MUSEUM
The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of the largest of its kind. There are three buildings. Two of which were recently added and were specifically built for the museum by super star architect Daniel Libeskind. The museum obviously focuses on two millennia of German/Jewish history. It is one of Berlin’s most visited museums so getting here earlier usually avoids long lines and waiting times. Although we enjoy the museum collection a lot, we are always in awe of the architecture of this place. The art installations by Menashe Kadishman and Via Leandowsky are also not to be missed. Opposite the museum building you can find the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin (also by Libeskind). Not a must visit, but also very nice. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– BODE MUSEUM
The beautiful and iconic Bode Museum probably showcases the most comprehensive collection of European Sculpture anywhere. This museum have also been extensively renovated. It is huge, so you may want to focus on the time periods of your preference. The sculpture collection features sculptures from Christian Orient (emphasis on Coptic Egypt), Byzantium, Ravenna, Middle Ages, Italian Gothic and early Renaiscance. It also showcases works from German Gothic, Renaiscance and Prussian Baroque. The Coin Cabinet is one of the world’s largest numismatic collections. With approximately 500,000 items the collection is a unique archive for historical research. The medal collection is simply a must see, if you are into that. If anything, make sure to visit at least the entrance hall. It is gorgeous! Go up for coffee in a very atmospheric café. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
– GEMÄLDE GALERIE
The Gemäldegalerie showcases the most important selection of paintings belonging to the Berlin State Museums. It focuses on paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The collection includes masterpieces from Dürer, van Eyck, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer among others. It is located in the NOT so attractive and sterile Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz. The space itself is quite boring, but the collection is incredible. This museum prides itself on the scientific methodology with which the collection is displayed. Each room can be taken in as a single statement about one to five artists in a certain period/style. The German collection is considered the finest in the world. Do not miss the octagonal Rembrandt room and the room containing the 5 different Madonnas by Raphael. MUSEUM WEBSITE.
CHECK OUT THE ICONIC MUSEUMS MAP BELOW!