Neues Museum Berlin

March 8, 2009

The Neues Museum has opened again, 60 years after being bombed in WW2. It is part of the world cultural heritage site of the Berlin museum island.
Architect David Chipperfield was entrusted with the task and his plans for the Neues Museum were controversial. There was a lot of critique especially by the citizens of Berlin (of course, architecture critique is a public hobby in germany…)
But for the opening (just the building, the exhibitions are not even there yet), people stood in rows waiting 2 hours in the rain to be let in. And so far the majority of the reactions have been postive.
The Neues Museum is certainly unique. A truely modern museum, with state-of the art technique. And (and this is a true miracle) it was 33 millions cheaper than calculated.
Many people wanted a complete reconstruction of the building. There were enough scars in Berlin they said. Chipperfield decided to keep those scars, the history, the life of the museum, visible. It was a brave decision.
This museum is old and new, whole and hurt. It´s an exhibit in itself.

Looking at historical pictures of the Neues Museum i think i like this version better (even though i´ve only seen pictures yet). Of course i like historical buildings and reconstructed frescos, but i don´t need a time capsule, a happy disneyland. I would rather have this building, a building that breathes history. I think it has dignity.

You could write books of course, about the architecture and history of the museum, so here are some articles to start with:
Here is a (postive) in-depth article by bd-the architects website.
And a negative one (in german)by german newspaper Die Welt.
Here is an english one with statements by Chipperfield Architects themselves.

(As someone working in exhibition design, i wonder though, how the exhibitions will work, especially since the contain such iconic exhibits as the Nofretete bust. The museum itself is an exhibit and it will be difficult i think to give both, building and exhibits, the attention they deserve without making them compete or negate each other.But we´ll see.)