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Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 1824 - 1930
Date of Inscription: 1999
Location: Europe, Germany, Berlin (city-state)
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Description: The origins of the museum as a social phenomenon date back to the age of Enlightenment in the 18th century. Testifying to the accomplishment of a visionary project are the five museums on Berlin’s Museumsinsel (1824-1930); they illustrate the evolution of methodology in terms of museum design over the course of the 20th century. Each museum was specifically designed to ascertain an organic connection with the art that resides within. The museum's collections outline the development of civilizations throughout the ages; their already profound significance is further enhanced by the buildings’ urban and architectural qualities. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  Museum Island (or, in German, Museumsinsel) in Berlin, Germany, is the name of the northern half of the Spreeinsel, an island in the Spree river, in the center of the city. (The southern half of the island is called Fischerinsel "Fishers' Island".) The island received its name for several internationally renowned museums that now occupy all of the island's northern half (originally a residential area dedicated to "art and science" by King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841). Constructed under several Prussian kings, their collections of art and archeology were turned into a public foundation after 1918, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), which maintains the collections and museums today. The Prussian collections became separated during the Cold War with the entire city, but were finally reunited after German reunification, except for the art and artefacts, that were purloined after World War II by Allied troops, that weren't replaced, like the Priam's Treasure, discovered by Heinrich Schliemann 1873, also called: the gold of Troy. The Old Museum (Altes Museum) is the oldest of the museums, finished in 1830 according to the plans by Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. It was erected opposite of the (no longer existing) Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin Castle). The oldest museum building in Berlin, it was here that Frederick William III first made the Antikensammlung, the Prussian collection of antiques, available to the public. This collection is now in part exhibited in the Old Museum again. The New Museum (Neues Museum), located behind the Old Museum, was completed in 1859 according to plans by August Stüler, a student of Schinkel. It was nearly destroyed in World War II (only some of the outer walls remained) and is presently being reerected. According to plan, after the completion in 2009, it shall -- as before the war -- exhibit the collections of Egyptian and pre-history. The collections that were united on Museum Island for the first time allowed a unified look at European art from the Antiques up to the 19th century, presented in buildings that display the history of museums in themselves over a course of a hundred years, which is why the entire ensemble was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1999. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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