Spotlight on Berlin: Neues Museum

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Our guide Angel in Berlin has a deep knowledge of and passion for his city. A scholar of art history, he joins us today to talk about how one of Berlin’s most famous museums is about more than its collection: it tells the story of Germany’s place in the world.

I know that the usual questions about Berlin concern different matters. It’s always about how exciting the city is, how international, the artists, where to party and the odd comparison with New York - yes, in the eighties.

However, no matter how much I actually do love living here, there simply is one place that I find truly exciting although it may sound a bit preppy to most people. It’s the Neues Museum.

Similarly to Venice, the Neues Museum ("New Museum") had to be built on poles due to the swampy grounds that had to serve for its foundations. Likewise, its reconstruction after WW2 seemed to be a task never to be accomplished until finally in 2009 Berlin celebrated its second inauguration following one of the most discussed processes in the history of "complementary restoration".

And although most people think that the place is all about Nefertiti, it’s really not. The bust of that Egyptian queen of the 14th century BC that was found in 1912 sure is the major attraction of that institution and a safe method for luring people into that place. She is cool, no matter what.

However, I hold that the whole museum is much more than that and serves as an incredible introduction to 19th century Germany as well as to one of the main topics in European culture at that time. Anyone trying to make sense of a past Germany that was to pave the way to today’s situation should visit the Neues Museum, as you can read in it just as in a history book.

You can read about a nation in the state of creation and its self-perception concerning its role in the world. You can read about the various positions in modern museology, a topic that was just about developing. And all of that, I hold, can be put in perspective with the relationship that the western society has to the Middle East today.

I know, it’s a broad spectrum. And that’s why I love this place the most. Of course anyone visiting Berlin will have to see the Brandenburg Gate. But the appreciation of that monument is a lot sounder if you can put it in the right perspective. And perspective is what keeps our minds alive.

Intrigued? We are! You can book Angel for any of his fascinating cultural and historical tours of Berlin, including an exploration of the Neues Museum and Museum Island
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