The Museum Island in the heart of Berlin is the largest museum ensemble in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
With over three million visitors a year, it is one of the most popular and most visited attractions in Berlin. In total, there are five world-class museums on Berlin's Museum Island dedicated to art and history.
In this complete guide to Museum Island Berlin, we present the five museums along with the James-Simon Gallery in full detail and provide helpful information on admission, tickets, opening hours and more.
We then describe the other attractions on the island, including the Berlin Cathedral, the Lustgarten, and the Humboldt Forum.
Finally, we answer common questions and tell you about the history of Museum Island.
Berlin Museum Island Visitor Center & Museums
1. James Simon Gallery
As the central reception and visitor center of Museum Island, the new James Simon Gallery completes the museum complex since 2019. The three-story building, designed by British star architect David Chipperfield, houses a 300-seat auditorium, a special exhibition space, a checkroom, a ticket office, a café and a museum store.
The building is not only intended to receive and direct the large streams of visitors to Museum Island, it also provides orientation, information and hospitality. In the future, museum guests will be able to reach all the surrounding exhibition buildings via the "Archaeological Promenade". At the moment, you can enter the Pergamon Museum via the James Simon Gallery through an entrance on the upper floor and the Neues Museum through an entrance in the basement.
- Tip: Admission to the James-Simon-Galerie is free, except for special exhibitions.
- The current opening hours and special exhibitions can be found on the official website,
2. Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum is the centerpiece and main attraction of Museum Island. Designed by Alfred Messel in the neoclassical style, the museum building was the last of the five exhibition buildings on Museum Island to open in 1930.
It consists of the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East), the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) with its Architectural Halls and sculpture wing, and the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic Art).
- Pergamon Altar
- Market Gate of Miletus
- Ishtar Gate with the Processional Way of Babylon
- Mshatta Facade
Note: Due to extensive renovation work, the Pergamon Museum will be completely closed for three and a half years from October 23, 2023.
Afterwards, the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way will not be visible again until 2037.
Currently: In the course of the redevelopment within the framework of the "Masterplan Museum Island", the hall with the Pergamon Altar will remain closed until at least 2027. The North Wing and the hall of Hellenistic architecture are also closed. The finds from Uruk and HabubaKabira as well as the rooms with Babylonian, Old Iranian and Sumerian monuments are also not accessible.
However, the south wing of the Pergamon Museum with the Ishtar Gate, the Processional Way and the Museum of Islamic Art as well as the room with the Market Gate of Miletus are currently open.
- Tip: The temporary exhibition "Pergamon Museum. The Panorama" focuses on the city of Pergamon in Roman times around 129 AD and serves as a counterpart, so to speak, for the closed room with the Pergamon Altar.
- For the current opening hours and prices, please visit the
3. Altes Museum
The Altes Museum (“Old Museum”), built between 1823 and 1830, is Berlin's first museum, therefore it is considered to be the nucleus of Museum Island. With its impressive architecture, it is one of the most important classicist buildings in Germany.
The Altes Museum, which transports its visitors to the world of classical antiquity, presents the collection of antiquities of the National Museums in Berlin. You can admire art from Ancient Greece and part of the coin cabinet on the main floor, while exhibits from the Roman and Etruscan times are on the upper floor.
- Portrait busts of Caesar and Cleopatra
- Treasury with gold and silver jewelry
For the current opening hours and prices, visit the official
4. Neues Museum
The Neues Museum ("New Museum") is made up of three outstanding collections: the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and selected exhibits from the Collection of Classical Antiquities. With the world-famous bust of Nefertiti, it is one of the most popular museums in Berlin.
The construction of the museum was ordered in 1841 by Frederick William IV, who commissioned the architect, Friedrich August Stüler. After 12 years of construction, it was opened in 1853 - as the second museum on today's Museum Island. However, after 70% of the Neues Museum was destroyed during World War II and it continued to deteriorate during the GDR, the museum was not reopened to the public until 2009.
- Bust of Nefertiti
- Berlin gold hat
- Skull of the Neanderthal of Le Moustier
- Treasure of Priamos (discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in ancient Troy)
For the current opening hours and admission fees, please refer to the
5. Alte Nationalgalerie
The Alte Nationalgalerie ("Old National Gallery") presents one of the most important German art collections of the 19th century. But the imposing building itself, a high point in Stüler's work, is also impressive as one of the most important examples of museum architecture in the 19th century.
Around 4,000 works, including masterpieces by French artists, impressive sculptures and important works of German Romanticism, are currently housed in the Alte Nationalgalerie. Classicist sculptures and "Ways of Realism" are displayed on the second floor. Works of Romanticism, Realism and Impressionism are exhibited on the second floor. Works from the Goethe period and Romanticism can be admired on the third floor.
- "In the Winter Garden" (1878/79) by Édouard Manet.
- "The Monk by the Sea" (1808-1810) by Caspar David Friedrich
- "The Thinker" (1881-83) by Auguste Rodin
- "In Summer" (1868) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
For current opening hours and admission prices, please visit the
6. Bode Museum
The magnificent Bode Museum at the northern tip of Museum Island houses the Museum of Byzantine Art, the Sculpture Collection, the Numismatic Collection and over 150 works from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery). But even the majestic-looking museum building itself is already an experience and worth a visit.
The Bode Museum was built between 1897 and 1904 by the court architect, Ernst von Ihne, in the Wilhelminian Baroque style. When it opened, it was named the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. During World War II, this building was also severely damaged and was gradually restored between 1948 and 1986. In 1956, it was renamed the Bode Museum after its intellectual creator.
- The relief of the Pazzi Madonna by Donatello
- Bernini's "Satyr with Panther”
- Tilman Riemenschneider's "Four Evangelists“
- Ancient sarcophagi from Rome as well as mosaic icons
Please see the
Entrance, Tickets & Tours for the Museum Island Berlin
- Entrance: The opening hours of the museums are: Tue/Mi/Fri/Sat/Sun 10am-6pm, Thursdays 10am-8pm, closed Mondays. The Neues Museum as well as the Pergamon Museum are open on Mondays from 10am to 6pm. You can find a current overview of the individual opening hours
- Tickets: We recommend the combined ticket, which grants admission to all five museums on Museum Island for a whole day. More information
- Tours: If you like, you can discover the treasures of Museum Island on a guided tour. You can find guided tours that take you through the historic center of Berlin including Museum Island and the Humboldt Forum
- Traveler's Tip: You should expect a lot of waiting time and long lines, especially in high season. For this reason, we recommend buying an
online ticket with skip the line entrance in advance, which allows you to benefit from priority admission.
More Attractions on Museum Island
1. Berlin Cathedral
Majestic and magnificent, right in the heart of the capital, Berlin Cathedral rises. The upper parish and cathedral church in Berlin was once the court church of the Hohenzollern dynasty and is n an important Berlin landmark. With a total height of 116 meters on a floor area of nearly 6800 square meters, the cathedral is the largest Protestant church in Germany.
Upon paying an entrance fee, you can explore the magnificent interior and climb the dome, where after 270 cathedral steps you will be treated to a breathtaking panoramic view of historic Berlin. Also worth seeing is the Hohenzollern Crypt, the most important dynastic burial place in Germany.
- Read more details about this sight in our complete guide to Berlin Cathedral.
- For current ticket prices and opening hours, please visit the
2. Humboldt Forum
Since July 2021, the Humboldt Forum has expanded the Museum Island's offerings with collections from the Ethnological Museum Berlin, the Museum of Asian Art, the non-European art collection, the Berlin Exhibition and the Humboldt Lab.
Built in eight years, the building, seen from the outside, is a faithful replica of the Berlin City Palace, which stood on the same site until 1950 and was considered a major work of northern German Baroque architecture. Visible from afar, the museum covers an area of around 30,000 square meters. The construction costs amounted to 677 million euros. This makes the Humboldt Forum the most expensive cultural building in Germany.
- For opening hours and ticket prices, please visit the
- For more information, please read our guide to Humboldt Forum.
The Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden) was laid out in 1573 by Elector Johann Georg as a fruit, vegetable and herb garden for the Berlin City Palace. In the 17th century, the Great Elector had the two-hectare green space transformed into a pleasure garden.
Today, the Lustgarten mainly serves as a resting area for visitors to the museums on Museum Island and the Berlin Cathedral. As before, the main attraction of the garden is the 70-ton granite bowl, which was inaugurated in 1834 and was considered a world wonder of the Biedermeier era at the time. Berliners very quickly found an affectionate nickname: "Berlin Soup Bowl".
How to get to the Museum Island Berlin?
- From Alexanderplatz: Take the U5 for 2 stops to U Museumsinsel (Berlin). From there it is only a few meters. Alternatively, you can take bus 100 (to U Museumsinsel) or walk 12 minutes to Museum Island.
- From Potsdamer Platz: Get on bus line 200 at the Varian-Fry-Str stop and go 6 stops to the Fischerinsel station. From here it is only about a 4-minute walk. Alternatively, you can go three stops on the U-Bahn 2 to the U Hausvogteiplatz station and walk the remaining 9 minutes.
FAQ about the Museum Island Berlin
Museum Island in Berlin is a museum ensemble consisting of five museums and the central entrance area/visitor center, James Simon Gallery. Other attractions on the Museum Island are the Humboldt Forum, the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten.
Museum Island is located on the Spree Island, right in the heart of Berlin.
The address is: Am Lustgarten, 10117 Berlin
Thanks to its central location in the heart of the city, Museum Island Berlin is very easy to reach. From Alexanderplatz, visitors can best get to the Museum Island by taking the U5 (to the stop U Museumsinsel). From there it is only a few meters. Alternatively, you can take bus 100 (to U Museumsinsel) or walk to the Museum Island.
There are a total of five museums on Berlin's Museum Island. These include the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie. The James Simon Gallery is the new visitor center on Museum Island. Other attractions on the island include the Humboldt Forum, the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten.
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History & Facts about Museum Island
In the Middle Ages, Museum Island was a marshy floodplain. The patch of earth in the middle of the Spree has been used for all kinds of purposes since the founding of Berlin, including as an orangery and a packing yard. It was not until the reign of King Frederick William II in 1797 that the idea of building a museum to display art treasures was taken up. The idea was realized in 1830 with the opening of the Altes Museum; Prussia's first public museum.
In the following 100 years, four more museums were built on the island. The Neues Museum, opened in 1855, the Nationalgalerie, now the Alte Nationalgalerie, in 1876. Since then, the island has been called Museum Island. In 1904, the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, today the Bode Museum, was added, and in 1930 the Pergamon Museum.
After the war, the Museum Island resembled a landscape of ruins; the Neues Museum was almost completely destroyed. Reconstruction of the complex began in GDR times. Starting in 1999, the Neues Museum was rebuilt, and the other museums were renovated as part of the Museum Island Master Plan, which called for the restoration and further development of Museum Island. In addition, the individual museum buildings were connected to form an ensemble. In 2010, the Kolonnadenhof was also reopened. Since 2019, guests have been welcomed in the James Simon Gallery, the central entrance area. The Humboldt Forum has been expanding the Museum Island's offerings since July 20, 2021.
Contact & Map
- Address: Museumsinsel Berlin, Am Lustgarten, 10117 Berlin.
- Hours: You can find an overview of the individual opening hours of the museums here.
- Public Transport: U5 to station U Museumsinsel (Berlin)
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