By Nicole Franceschini
Since the end of August 2014 the world famous Pergamon Museum has lost part of its main constituencies: the Altar of Pergamon. As part of a major redevelopment plan for the entire UNESCO site of the Museum Island, the Altar is now under restoration. The restoration is planned to be completed in 2019.
In the past months many visitors and tourists have been asking around if visiting the museum was still considered to be worth visiting, taking into consideration the closure of the Altar room. The answer is simple: YES.
The Pergamon Museum is, with or without its Altar, one of the most important museums of Berlin and the collections contained within are outstanding. The Museum is mostly divided into two sections: the first floor is dedicated to Ancient Near Eastern as well as Greek archaeological artifacts while the second floor hosts the Islamic Museum.
The first floor will offer the unique chance to admire entire facades. In particular, visitors will be stunned by the view of the Ishtar Gate, the eighth entrance gate for the ancient city of Babylon or in the room next to it where it is possible to admire the façade of the market square of Miletus. In addition, the first floor hosts a good collection of smaller artifacts from Akkadian, Babylonian and Neo-Hittite reigns; some of which are part of ongoing excavations that have re-captured the attention of the archaeological society in recent years for their outstanding new findings (for example the excavation of the ancient Reign of Sam´al at Zincirli Höyük in Turkey).
The Islamic Museum, on the other hand, will bring visitors in to a completely different world and through different centuries and caliphates. From the beginning of Islam through its artistic and architectural development in the Middle East and the Mediterranean area, it’s all here. This part of the museum is rich in documentation and the interpretation work done will offer the visitor the chance to learn interesting facts about Islam and about the destruction of Syrian heritage that is happening at the moment. Furthermore the museum is now digitalizing its collection and there is the chance to play a little with computers and tablets. Some artifacts that are a must-see are the façade of Mschatta (Jordan), a beautiful green-blue Mihrab from Konya (Turkey) and the reconstruction of an Ottoman room from Syria.
If you are still not convinced whether you should visit the Pergamon Museum during your next Berlin experience, I invite you to have a quick look at the Pergamon section on the Google Art Project: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/collection/pergamonmuseum-staatliche-museen-zu-berlin?hl=de&projectId=art-project
Daily from 10am to 6pm
Thursday from 10am to 8pm
For information, opening hours on festivities, prices and exhibitions consult the Museum’s website: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/pergamonmuseum/home.html