Located at a stone’s throw from the Old National Gallery, the brilliantly restored Neues Museum (New Museum) has opened its doors to the public again only in 2009. Suffering from severe damage after World War II and then neglected during the GDR period, the British architect David Chipperfield met the challenges of restoring the building to its original glory by beautifully anchoring the main body of the museum in the architectural language of the present day. This walk begins by examing the present museum itself, from its initial and revolutionary 19th century conception—created by architect Friedrich August Stüler (student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel)—to its elaborate decorative program by Wilhelm Kaulbach, to the current “masterplan” of its restorer, Chipperfield.
During our walk we continue evaluating the recent renovation and the very contemporary curatorial strategies used for displaying ancient art.. The museum’s collection is has an extraordinary depth displaying the development of Old World cultures from prehistory and early history. Of course the ancient Egyptian art crowns the assemblage and we consider its importance to the status of collection for the past two centuries while taking in the gems, first the ultimate highlight of the museum, the legendary 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, whose original color is preserved without restoration since the Amarna period.
Further famous examples of the delicacy of Egyptian portrait sculpture of the late period include the so-called Berlin “Green Head” named after its greenish stone. There are plenty of other treasures in the museum that are worth our seeking out, such the skull of the Neanderthal from Le Moustier, and Heinrich Schliemann’s famous treasure of ancient Troy including works of ceramics, gold and weaponery.