Not only does Museum Island in Berlin have a massive and truly impressive concentration of museums displaying art and sculpture from around the world, it is beautifully curated and showcased in vast and uplifting spaces. Refreshingly, they are not overly crowded like the leading museums of NY, London or Paris. If you get there at 10am, you could even waltz past the art as though it was your own private collection. The grand museums: The Alte Nationalgalerie (German classicism, Romantic and Realism schools of the 19th century), Bode Museum (Italian and German Renaissance sculpture), the Pergamon Museum (2000BC Pergamon Alter and 6000BC Ishtar Gates from Babylon) and the Neues Museum (Egyptian and Greek collection) stand virtually shoulder to shoulder, making it possible to see a staggering number of works in a short span of time. Twelve of us joined a three day study group led by the erudite art historians Charlotte Harman from London and Dr. Martin Von Ostrowski from Berlin. With them we scoured the field, garnering insights and little jewels of knowledge and enjoying glimpses into the evolution and development of European art. The talks were lively and buoyant as both lecturers are deeply knowledgeable and passionate about their subject.
Contemporary art lovers will find Berlin particularly rewarding, and must head to The Neue National Gallery at Pottsdamer Platz, the Hamburger Bahnhof (a converted railway station) and "Me!" on Auguststrasse, in the exciting Jewish Quarter in Mitte, which is splashed with several small modern art galleries. The lower cost of living in Berlin compared to other major European cities has attracted a legion of artists from all over, further perpetuating Berlin as an artists' hub.
Aficionados of architecture too hone in on Berlin to explore the spectacular line-up of Embassy buildings. There are many examples of modern architectural styles interlaced with those of previous centuries such as David Chipperfield's rendition of glass-on-old brick at the Neues Museum which was heavily bombed during World War two and restored since. The spectacular glass dome by Norman Foster atop the Reichstag (home of the German Parliament) leads to breathtaking city views.
Forty minutes on the S Bahn or overland train, and we were in the neighbouring town, Pottsdam, at the rather flamboyant abode of Frederick the Great who built his summer palace in 1745 and called it Sans Souci, which means, "without worries" in French. This is where the "arty king turned military strategist" housed his painting collection and enjoyed philosophical discussions with the renowned thinker, Voltaire. The joyous Rococo style brings the outside in, and the decorations throughout are replete with flowers, fruits and frolicking angels perched on sea shells. Although there were bedrooms aplenty, bathrooms were surprisingly non existent, but then bathing in those days was a rare occurrence and chamber pots were brought in when nature called.
More about berlin
- Art Historian based in Berlin - Dr. Martin Von Ostrowski +49 30 8838156 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Art Historian based in London - Charlotte Harman +44 79622 47167 email@example.com
- Stay at - Top End Hotel de Rome at Behrenstrasse 37 T + 49 304606090;
- Affordable Style - Abion Hotel Alt Moabit 99 T + 49 30 39920399
- Lunch at the Pergamon Museum CafÃ©, and have coffee and cake at the Boda Museum. The Reichstag has a cafÃ© high up with superb views of Berlin.
- Also see - The German History museum, the Jewish Museum and the Deutsche Guggenheim.
- Schloss Charlottenberg, the palace built for Queen Charlotte, is in north-west Berlin. The fanciful China room, where blue China is displayed in gilded surrounds, is worth a visit.