May 04, 2023
Berlin is famous for its vibrant art scene and there’s no shortage of museums and galleries in the German capital. Berlin is home to almost 200 museums, ranging from modern art to monuments commemorating Germany’s complicated history to fascinating plastinated real human bodies.
On the first Sunday of every month, several of Berlin's best museums open their doors for free! This includes the big institutions on Museum Island and lesser known places like the Haus am Waldsee. Here is our selection of favourite museums in Berlin for you.
Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is one of the most important research institutions in the world. It takes on a leading role in the field of biodiversity as well as biological and geological evolution.
Here, you will find over 30 million specimen in 15 exhibitions. Marvel at the original Berlin specimen of the primaeval bird Archaeopteryx lithographica and take a look at the Wet collection that consists of 276,000 jars. Or let your hair stand on the end when you walk through an aisle full of enlarged and true-to-life insect models.
This small island in the midst of the Spree river is home to some of Europe’s most important museums. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999 as it is a unique ensemble of museum buildings and also a social phenomenon of the Age of Enlightenment.
The five museums were built between 1824 and 1930 by some of Prussia’s most renowned architects. They exhibit important historic artefacts and sculptures from ancient Greek and Egypt to the year of 1900. Take your pick and go on a fascinating journey through time!
There are plenty of highlights to discover on the island! Don't miss out on seeing the famous bust of Nefertiti, the ancient Egyptian queen, in Neues Museum. Marvel at the Roman Pergamon Altar in the Pergamon museum as well as the 17 meter high Market Gate of Miletus. Or you can indulge in art pieces from the Middle Ages to the 19th century at the Bode Museum, including works from famous Italian sculptors like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Donatello.
BODY Worlds takes visitors on an unforgettable journey through the human body and gives eye-opening insights into the body’s complex anatomy. The exhibition invites you to take a touching look under the skin and learn more about your own body. You will learn more about different aspects of life that influence us all. That includes factors such as happiness, how our bodies are formed by chances and destiny or the effects of pressure and our long term health.
Since 2017, the exhibition in the Menschen Museum is also displaying plastinated animals. Visitors can examine the anatomy of various animals such as an antelope, a yak, a dog and even a lion. The lion called "Icke" was originally born in the Berlin Zoo. You can see extraordinary muscles, weighing around 200kg. The strong limbs allow him to jump as far as nearly 12 metres.
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Berlin Wall Memorial
Surely you’ve already hear about the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie by now. To get a better understanding of the Berlin Wall and how it impacted Berlin’s citizens day-to-day life, visit this free museum, the central memorial site of German division.
Located in the centre of the capital, the memorial extends along 1,4 kilometres of the former 'death strip'. It contains the last piece of the Berlin Wall with preserved grounds behind it, allowing a coherent visualization of the city's divided past.
Cold War Museum
One of Berlin's newest museums that you cannot miss is the Cold War Museum, which opened its doors in November 2022. Berlin was at the heart of the Cold War, which is why this museum belongs in the heart of the city. For some the museum will bring back memories, for others it is a multi-faceted introduction into the history of Berlin, Europe and the whole world.
The museum looks at the time period from multiple angles. The better known topics include nuclear armament/deterrence, the multitude of proxy conflicts and espionage. Lesser known topics that are also explored in the museum are the 'peaceful' competition in science, research, technology, sports and economy, such as the Space Race and the Olympics.
Jewish Museum Berlin
One of the largest museums of its kind in whole of Europe, the Jewish Museum in Berlin is home to numerous exhibits focusing on German-Jewish history and culture. The spectacular building was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, aiming to recount German-Jewish history.
The impressive museum gives a detailed glimpse into history under the guiding principle of "Telling stories with objects." The collections consist of thousands of rare documents, paintings, sculptures and photos as well as scripts and objects of ceremonial significance. Most of them originate from the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, bringing Jewish history to life.
This museum is a hidden gem and home to one of the most important art collections of classic modernism, located in the heart of Charlottenburg. The impressive collections include artworks by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti as well as Paul Klee. This makes it also one of the most important museums of modern art in Berlin.
Collection highlights include Matisse's Le cahier bleu as well as several works from Picasso, such as Nu assis s'essuyant le pied and Nature morte devant une fenêtre à Saint-Raphaël.
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