Berlin Adventures: Neues Museum

So, we’ve come to roughly the mid-way point in my adventures in the German capital.  Rather than whizz to the other side of the city, we’re going to stay on Museum Island. It’s a whole island full of museums why would anyone ever want to leave?

As we’re at the mid-way point, it might be nice to have a bit of a re-cap. So far we’ve seen highlights such as:

What could possibly be left?

The one thing I came to Berlin to see; the famed head of Nefertiti. Not her actual head, mind, just a bust. (I would have used the word bust to begin with but I thought it would cause some of you -yes you- to titter.) So I leave behind the wonders of Pergamon, on to pastures new. Or rather, pastures neues. Nefertiti, you see, is housed around the corner in the Neues Museum.

Even though she’s missing an eye, she’s still captivating. The allure of Helen of Troy, or the appeal of that other Egyptian temptress Cleopatra, lies in the mercurial component of these women. They are whatever we want them to be; even Cleo. Nefertiti, however, is very real indeed, she doesn’t have that layer of fictionality to hide behind. Perfectly imperfect, she has become an icon of feminine beauty.

Even with that shock of Bride of Frankenstein hair!

Normally, this is where the picture would go but not in Nefertiti’s case. No, sir-ee. Like any modern Royal, Nefertiti comes with her own security entourage (in this case three very large and grumpy looking guards) to prevent the paparazzi (or tourists, or adventurers) from snapping any candid shots.

It’s all rather ironic when you think that when she was discovered, Ludwig Borchardt –German Archaeologist and Director of the Excavations wrote (and I quote):

Life-sized painted bust of the Queen, 47cm high. With Blue wig cut straight on top, and garlanded with a ribbon half-way up. Colours look freshly painted. Really wonderful work. No use describing it, you have to see it.

“No use describing it, you have to see it.” Perhaps this ‘no cameras’ policy is a ploy to get in the tourists? Anyway, here she is, represented in perhaps my favourite medium; the badge.

Nefertiti Badge
Nefertiti badge

How very Warholian.

Before I bring this adventure to a close, I’m going to talk a little bit about the museum itself. It bills itself quite literally as the New Museum, but neither it not the stuff it contains are particularly ‘new.’ It was built between 1843-1855 (just after the Altes “Old” Museum  which was finished in 1830) and contains objects from Pre-Historic, Egyptian and Classical collections, so, yeah, not exactly yesterday…

However (I do love a good ‘however’) the museum suffered substantial damage during the Second World War. Since then it has been reconstructed, rebuilt and restored. It’s latest incarnation was completed by British Architect David Chipperfield and opened to the public in 2009. What do you think?

Inside the Neues Museum

Columns of the Neues Museum

One last note; if you look carefully at the outside of the museum, you can still see some of the scars of the war.

If you liked this post, you might like the Nefertiti Badge at the Museum of Museum Badges.

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