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The 10 Best Museums in Berlin

Berlin has over 175 museums, so it’s fair to say there’s something for everybody.

Immerse yourself in art, history, culture, science, and technology in Germany’s capital city. The famous Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its five magnificent museums, is a must-do item on any Berlin itinerary, but highlights outside the island, such as the DDR Museum, the German Spy Museum, and the Jewish Museum, also offer exciting, and sometimes unexpected, insights. Whether ancient art in the Pergamon Museum or contemporary works in the Hamburger Bahnhof, not to mention the world’s longest open-air gallery–the 10 best museums in Berlin will be worth your time.

 

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Pergamon Museum

Berlin’s most visited museum was built between 1910 and 1930 and is one of the five buildings on the Museum Island. It is known as the first archaeological museum in the world and is famous for its reconstruction of archaeological architecture. Three different museums await you in the imposing three-winged complex–the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art. Highlights are the Hellenistic Pergamon Altar, the huge Market Gate of Miletus from 120 BC as well as the legendary Ishtar Gate with the Processional Way of Babylon and the Mshatta Façade, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

INSIDER TIPWhile the Pergamon Museum is closed for renovations until 2027, Das Panorama is open.

 

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Neues Museum

Also part of Berlin’s Museum Island, the Neues Museum is considered a masterpiece of architecture. It was designed by Friedrich August Stüler, who had the building constructed between 1843 and 1855. Inside, you will find the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and parts of the Collection of Classical Antiquities. The most famous exhibits include the huge papyrus collection and the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, whose bust is the museum’s landmark. However, the Neues Museum not only displays works of art from the time of the pharaohs but also objects from the Palaeolithic Age to modern times, including the Bronze Age Berlin Gold Hat and barbed wire from the Berlin Wall.

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Alte Nationalgalerie

Further along Museum Island, Alte Nationalgalerie has an impressive collection of works by 19th-century European masters. Whether Caspar David Friedrich, Claude Monet, or Paul Cézanne, everyone of note is represented here. The Alte Nationalgalerie is located in a restored neoclassical-style building. King Frederick William IV of Prussia had a vision of a place dedicated to art and science long before the building was realized. Particularly noteworthy paintings include “The Balcony Room” by Adolph von Menzel and “In Summer” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re interested in Modern Art, try the Neue Nationalgalerie near Potsdamer Platz, which displays paintings, sculptures, prints, and sculptures from the Expressionist, Cubist, and Surrealist periods.

 

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Jewish Museum

You can learn about the German-Jewish past at the Jewish Museum Berlin, the largest of its kind in Europe. Even from a distance, you will notice the dramatic building, reminiscent of a broken Star of David, by Daniel Libeskind in Berlin-Kreuzberg.  Inside, you can view various exhibits that will take you on a journey through 1,700 years of German-Jewish history. Of course, this not only includes positive milestones, but also tragically low points, as demonstrated in the Holocaust Tower, for example. The permanent exhibition “Jewish History and Present in Germany” combines classic object presentations with interactive elements and art installations to explore the past and

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The Natural History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde)

The Natural History Museum in Berlin is the largest natural history museum in Germany housing more than 30 million objects. It is world-famous for one thing in particular: the gigantic skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which is considered one of the best-preserved and largest dinosaur skeletons with 170 out of a total of 300 bones. It was unearthed in Montana in 2012 and measures 39 ft in length and 13 ft in height.

Fun fact: the T-Rex is also known to visitors as Tristan Otto. In addition to the skeleton, you will find 3,000 other living and extinct animal species. Whether fossils, minerals, or mammals–there are plenty of objects just waiting to be discovered.

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DDR Museum

If you want to find out more about the everyday life of former GDR citizens, the DDR Museum offers comprehensive insight by challenging clichés and presenting a hands-on interactive permanent exhibition. In collaboration with historians, the cultural history of the former GDR is preserved and made accessible to younger generations. You can take a test drive in a Trabi, stroll through a furnished five-bedroom-apartment, and watch a small fashion show. Afterward, the Stasi interrogation room awaits. Would you rather be the interrogator or become a victim of interrogation?

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German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum)

Known by the acronym DHM, this museum is devoted to German history. It is located in the Zeughaus Unter den Linden in Berlin-Mitte and features 7,000 different exhibits. Visitors will embark on a journey of 1,500 years of German history from the Middle Ages to reunification. Each era has its own exhibition, and there are several special exhibitions. The DHM sees itself as a place “to strengthen historical judgment, where overarching philosophical, ethical and historical questions are negotiated” and is one of the most visited museums in the city.

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Hamburger Bahnhof

The Hamburger Bahnhof, once the terminus of the rail link between Hamburg and Berlin, now houses one of the world’s most important art collections from the 1950s to the present day. Located right next to the main central station in a neoclassical building, it is a must-see for art lovers. As part of Berlin’s National Gallery, the Hamburger Bahnhof presents a range of inspiring works, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other media. Stroll through the galleries to view the works of internationally renowned artists such as Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly.

 

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German Spy Museum (Deutsches Spionagemuseum)

Berlin played a central role in the Cold War between East and West, and the German Spy Museum offers a fascinating insight into the history of espionage. Founded by former journalist Franz-Michael Günther, the unique museum on Leipziger Platz uses state-of-the-art technology to take you on a fascinating journey into the world of secret agents and undercover investigations. From covert operations to sophisticated technology, interactive installations, and gadgets, you will feel what it is like to lead a double life. Time to put your newly acquired knowledge into practice: In various rooms, you can search for bugs planted by the KGB, negotiate the laser maze, or decode hidden messages.

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East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is not a typical museum but a listed landmark on the longest remaining section of the wall, which divided the German capital between 1961 and 1989. Many restored murals, representing peace, hope, and freedom in the post-Cold War era, adorn the striking monument, which stretches for one mile along Mühlenstraße in the Friedrichshain district. It comes as no surprise that the longest permanently open-air gallery in the world attracts 3 million visitors a year. It provides a space for 100 works by artists from 20 different countries. Among the works, you can admire the graffiti painting by Russian artist Dmitri Wrubel called “My God, Help Me to Survive this Deadly Love”, also known as the Brother Kiss painting.