Top 10 Facts about the Pergamon Museum
It took two decades to complete the Pergamon Museum. This museum is found in Berlin and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
The museum is home to more than 270,000 historical artefacts from the Middle East. These historical objects tell the story of the ancient community that lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia.
They showcase impressive Islamic art and the reconstruction of ancient buildings. This makes the Pergamon Museum one of the most visited cultural sites in the city.
There are several rooms to tour while here and it is worth your while. As you plan on your next visit to Berlin, I will be sharing some of the top 10 facts about this museum that will definitely intrigue you.
Here are the top 10 facts.
1. The museum was inspired by Islamic culture
A look at the artefacts in the museum, you will notice that there is a lot of artistic expressions of Islamic societies. The arts in there are from the 8th to the 19th centuries.
This art of Islamic Cultures is considered to be the most comprehensive collection outside of the Islamic world itself.
The exhibits in the museum have their roots spanning from Spain to India. Majority of them are from present-day Iran and Egypt.
There is a new collection that showcases the trans-cultural relations, global biographies and the relationships between different Islamic cultures.
The most interesting of all is how these arts are similar to one another in terms of their motifs and craftsmanship.
2. There’s an ancient market gate at the museum
One pleasant surprise that you get to see in this museum is an ancient market gate. It is located in the Architecture of Antiquity collection.
The gigantic marble facade was used as an entrance to an ancient Miletus market built roughly in 120AD.
One thing to note though is that the Market Gate of Miletus is a reconstruction as the original gate was damaged in an earthquake and then again during World War II.
3. The museum was damaged at the end of World War II
The Pergamon Museum was badly damaged during the airstrikes on Berlin at the end of the Second World War. Luckily, many of the display objects had been stored safely while some of the large exhibits were walled in for protection.
The items that were on the loose were used as war treasure to avoid looting and fires in 1945. Most of the items were returned in 1958 to East Germany.
A large number of the collection can be found in Russia at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Another set of the collection can be found at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
4. It was constructed to create more room for artefacts
When the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum on Museum Island opened in 1904, it was evident that the edifice was not large enough. This was because there was a lot of the art and archaeological treasures being excavated under German supervision.
Several excavations were underway in ancient Babylon, Uruk, Assur, Miletus, Priene and ancient Egypt. The objects from these sites were many and could not fit the existing German museum system.
This led Wilhelm von Bode, the director of the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, to plan to build a new museum nearby. The new one was to accommodate ancient architecture, German post-antiquity art, and Middle Eastern and Islamic art.
5. Part of the collection in Pergamon Museum was collected by a Roman archaeologist
The collection in this museum goes back to the prince-electors of Brandenburg. He collected objects from antiquity. The collection began with the purchase of the collection by a Roman archaeologist in 1698.
The collection was first made accessible to the public in 1830 when the Altes Museum was opened. With time, the collection expanded with the excavations in Olympia, Samos, Pergamon, Miletus, Priene, Magnesia, Cyprus and Didyma.
The collection is made up of sculpture from the archaic to Hellenistic ages as well as artwork from Greek and Roman architecture, sculptures, inscriptions, mosaics, bronzes, jewellery and pottery.
6. Millions of tourists visit every year
The Pergamon Museum, located on Museum Island, is one of the most visited cultural sites in Berlin. In a year, more than a million people visit it and the number grows each year.
On a normal day, you will find ordinary people to prominent politicians, famous actors and pop stars admiring the art in this museum.
The unique art and rich history that goes back to a thousand years in this museum is something no one wants to miss. In 1999, the collection was included in the UNESCO World list.
7. Pergamon Altar of Zeus is the main attraction in this museum
This museum owes its birth to the German engineer Karl Human. He was supervising the laying of a new road in one of the countries of Asia Minor.
In 1878, during construction work, he stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient mural decorated with bas-relief sculptures of ancient heroes and Olympic gods.
To his surprise, it was the legendary Pergamon Altar of Zeus. Today, it is considered the main asset of the museum’s collection.
On shipping it to Berlin, they could not find space in the museum to place it. This led to the decision of building the new museum.
8. Construction of the Pergamon Museum was hit by lack of finances
When the go-ahead was given to construct a new building to accommodate the new artefacts, the work began almost immediately.
This was however halted because of financial challenges. The other challenge they faced was the death of the chief architect. It took time to find his replacement.
Shortly after, World War I happened followed by the financial crisis that greatly affected the economic situation in the country.
The museum was completed 23 years later after the laying of the foundation stone.
9. There are antiquities from ancient empires
There is a large collection of gold jewellery, household items, antique statues from the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian empires at the Pergamon Museum.
Most of the works in this museum are over 6 thousand years old. There are clay tablets from the 7th century as well as the remains of the main hall of Nebuchadnezzar II.
The hall is made up of a huge stone mural, prayer mihrabs, samples of the first calligraphy and various reliefs depicting scenes from the life of the ancient.
10. Aleppo room tells Christian stories
This decorated room in the museum dates back to the 17th Century. It belonged to a prominent Christian who lived in Aleppo.
The room has paintings that reference Christian stories that have been influenced by the art style of Islamic illustrators and nature scenes.
There are paintings on the panels depicting the Virgin Mary, psalms as well as the name of one of its craftsmen on its walls.
This room was the first that his guests would see when they entered his home.