Opening date revealed for Berlin's Museum Island entrance building

10 April 2019
  • Ute Zscharnt

David Chipperfield




Angela Merkel to attend ceremony for the James Simon Galerie

The new entrance building to Berlin’s Museum Island will officially open on 12 July in a ceremony to be attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel. Designed by David Chipperfield and named after one of city’s greatest patrons, the James Simon Galerie forms an integral part of the Museum Island masterplan that the practice has been working on since 1999. The building was handed over to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin last December, completing the ensemble between the Kupfergraben canal and the south-west façade of the Neues Museum, a historic structure which was neglected after sustaining damaged in World War II and later rebuilt by David Chipperfield.

As the gateway to Museum Island, the Galerie welcomes visitors up three flights of wide steps which lead to a generous foyer, offering direct access to the main exhibition floor of the Pergamon Museum. The foyer encloses the cafeteria and opens out onto a grand terrace that runs along the full length of the building. A mezzanine floor beneath the main entrance foyer accommodates the museum shop and visitor amenities, while the temporary exhibition spaces and an auditorium are situated in the basement level. Large parts of this principal level will be accessible to the public outside opening hours.

The design is influenced by existing elements of the Museum Island, making reference to Schinkel, Stüler and the other architects involved in its creation. The materials of reconstituted stone with natural stone aggregate blend in with the limestone, sandstone and rendered façades, while smooth concrete dominates the interior spaces. Slender columns call to mind a famous sketch by Friedrich Wilhelm IV for his ‘cultural acropolis’. They continue Stüler’s colonnade that originally ended at Neues Museum, creating the new small colonnaded courtyard between the Neues Museum and the James Simon Galerie.

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

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