As part of the longest and most ambitious renovation project on Berlin’s Museum Island, the Pergamon Museum (Pergamonmuseum) will close its doors from October 23, for a minimum period of three and a half years. Some parts of the museum, including the south wing, should remain closed longer and only reopen in fourteen years, in 2037.
Initially, some parts were to remain accessible during the works, but the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), responsible for Berlin’s state museums, eventually decided to close the museum completely in order to cut costs.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation began a major renovation of the Pergamon Museum in 2013. To limit the closure of the collections to the public, this renovation is divided into two phases.
The first phase of renovation, which concerns the north wing and the central building housing the Pergamon Altar, should be completed in 2025, with a planned reopening in 2027. As part of this first phase, the museum has acquired of a new building, “Le Panorama”, which virtually presents works that are inaccessible due to the works.
The Great Pergamon Altar or Altar of Zeus, 2nd century BC, Pergamonmuseum Berlin.
The second phase of the work is now underway. This includes the repair of the roof, the facades and the waterproofing of the building, as well as the repair of damage caused by humidity. According to the SPK, the renovation of the south wing is particularly necessary. In fact, she is “in a very poor condition, affecting the stability of the building and the safety of the exhibits”. Preparatory measures for the second phase will begin in the fall and construction work in 2024. The sections of the building concerned house the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Hall of Miletus, which belongs to the Classic antique collection.
Built between 1910 and 1930 by Ludwig Hoffmann according to plans by Alfred Messel, the neoclassical building opened to the public in 1936. During World War II, the building suffered extensive damage and the communist regime of the GDR, for lack of financial resources, could not carry out the necessary renovation works. Even today, the building retains traces of bullet holes on its walls weakened by humidity. Nets have also been installed to prevent rock falls.
The extended duration of the works is also explained by the energy renovation – with the installation of solar panels, the construction of a system of tunnels, called “archaeology promenade”, linking the various museums of the Island and the construction of the fourth wing, initially planned in the plans of Alfred Messel, but which could not be carried out at the time for lack of financial means. The major works are complex due to the classification of the Museum Island as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
The total cost of the renovations undertaken since 2013 amounts to 489 million euros. For the next stage, the works are estimated at 722.4 million euros, with an envelope of 300 million euros to cover possible price increases. In the end, the complete renovation of the Pergamon Museum could cost more than 1.5 billion euros.