Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin

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View of the Ishtar Gate
Parts of a pen mosaic from the Eanna sanctuary
Part of the facade of the Inanna temple of Kara-Indasch from Uruk

The Vorderasiatisches Museum is part of the State Museums in Berlin . It is housed in the main and the basement of the south wing of the Pergamon Museum and includes one of the largest collections of Near Eastern antiquities in the world.


The first finds came to Berlin in the middle of the 19th century, when Prussia acquired reliefs from the excavations in Nineveh in London . Later, the close connection between the museum and the German Orient Society and the patron James Simon was particularly fruitful. In 1899 an independent Middle East Department was founded at the Royal Museums. First the finds were housed in the Neues Museum , then temporarily in the basement of the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum . In 1907, according to plans by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann, today's Pergamon Museum was built, the south wing of which was intended for the Middle East Department from the outset . The Islamic Art Department , today's Museum of Islamic Art , moved into the upper floor in 1929 , with which the Middle East Department formed the Middle East Museum .

In 1927, the then director Walter Andrae began planning the furnishings for the rooms on the main floor , and in 1929 the move into the new rooms. In 1930 the hall with the Ishtar Gate and the processional street from Babylon were opened to the general public, and the other exhibition rooms were gradually added until 1937. Most recently, the Yazılıkaya Hall was furnished with murals from the excavation site in Boğazkale (formerly Boğazköy), the ancient Hattusha, by Elisabeth Andrae , as well as plaster casts of reliefs from the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya near the Hittite capital.

Andraes' staging with its monumental reconstructions of gates from Babylon, Assur and Uruk, the strong wall colors, paintings showing the excavation sites in their current state, the mixture of originals and plaster casts as well as the carefully worked through didactics of the installation was considered a sensation. Since it was largely re-established after the war, the Andraesche concept can still be seen in principle to this day.

During the Second World War , there were hardly any losses to the collections due to the war; the movable exhibits that were brought to the Soviet Union as looted art in 1945 were returned to the GDR in 1958. The collection was reopened as the Vorderasiatisches Museum in 1953 .

The directors of the museum were Friedrich Delitzsch (1899–1918), Otto Weber (1918–1928), Walter Andrae (1928–1951), Gerhard Rudolf Meyer (1951–1977), Liane Jakob-Rost (1978–1990) and Evelyn Klengel- Brandt . Beate Salje was director from 1998 to 2014 . She was followed by Markus Hilgert from March 1, 2014 to May 31, 2018 , and since then Lutz Martin has been acting director. Barbara Helwing will take over management of the museum from spring 2019 .

A central depot for the collections in Berlin-Friedrichshagen is currently being planned . This is where the large-format parts of the collection in particular are to be relocated. The construction of this central depot is controversial. The south wing, on the upper floor of which the collections of the Museum of Islamic Art have been presented since 1933, but which are to move to the north wing of the Pergamon Museum in the future, is to be converted on the basis of a competition design by Oswald Mathias Ungers . The deep cuts in the listed historical productions by Walter Andrae , which have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1999, are very controversial. Most of Andrae's gate reconstructions, such as the one shown in Uruk, are to be postponed, and dismantling of the Yazılıkaya Hall is also planned.

For this purpose, parts of the Max von Oppenheim collection , which was recovered despite severe war damage , the former Tell Halaf Museum , are to be integrated into the collection. The gate system of the palace from Tell Halaf is to become the new main entrance to the museum.

The Association of Friends of Antiquity on Museum Island Berlin supports the Collection of Antiquities and the Vorderasiatisches Museum of the Berlin State Museums.

Permanent exhibition

On 2000 m² of exhibition space, spread over 14 halls, exhibits from six millennia of Near Eastern culture are on display. The exhibits can date from the 6th millennium BC. Can be dated to the time of Islamic expansion . They come mainly from the present-day states of Iraq, Syria and Turkey, individual finds also from other areas. Starting with Neolithic finds, the focus of the collection is on finds from Sumer , Babylonia , Assyria and the northern Syrian-eastern Anatolian region. The foundations of the museum collection were laid during excavations in historically important cities such as Uruk , Shuruppak , Assur , Hattuscha , Amarna , Tell Halaf (Guzana), Sam'al , Toprakkale or Babylon , and other acquisitions come from Nimrud , Ninive , Susa and Persepolis . The finds document, among other things, the high cultures of the Sumerians , Akkadians , Babylonians , Assyrians , Hittites and Arameans .

The showpieces of the collection are the Ishtar Gate and the processional street of Babylon, parts of the Eanna temple and the Inanna temple of Kara-indaš from Uruk. In addition, the museum houses a significant number of Middle Eastern stamps and cylinder seals as well as cuneiform texts .


  • Walter Andrae : Memories of an Excavator. de Gruyter, Berlin 1961, DNB 450078663 .
  • Nikolaus Bernau : The Berlin Museum Island. Stadtwandel-Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-937123-64-6 .
  • Nikolaus Bernau: The architecture halls of the Pergamon Museum. A monument to German architectural history. In: Stefan Altekamp , Mathias Hofter , Michael Krumme (editor): Posthumanistic Classical Archeology. Historicity and scientific character of interests and methods. Hirmer, Munich, 2001, ISBN 3-7774-9300-7 , pp. 461-472.
  • Nicola Crüsemann (editor): Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin. History and stories for the centenary. National Museums in Berlin / Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88609-442-1 .
  • Nicola Crüsemann: From Mesopotamia to the Kupfergraben. Prehistory and years of origin (1899–1918) of the Near Eastern Department of the Berlin museums against technical and cultural-political backgrounds. (= Supplement to the yearbook of the Berlin museums. New series. Volume 42). Gebrüder Mann, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-7861-2403-5 .
  • Martin Maischberger (editor): Pergamon Museum. Antikensammlung, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Museum of Islamic Art. 3. Edition. Prestel, Munich / London / New York 2017, ISBN 978-3-7913-5748-5 , pp. 66–127.
  • Liane Jakob-Rost and others: The Vorderasiatisches Museum. Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1188-5 .
  • Joachim Marzahn , Beate Salje (editor): Resurrecting Assur. 100 years of German excavations in Assyria. (= Companion volume to the exhibition of the same name). Zabern, Mainz 2003, ISBN 978-3-8053-3250-7 .
  • Beate Salje (editor): Near Eastern museums yesterday, today, tomorrow. Berlin, Paris, London, New York. A position assessment. (= Colloquium volume on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin on May 7, 1999). Zabern, Mainz 2001, ISBN 3-8053-2778-1 .

Web links

Commons : Pergamonmuseum  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Vorderasiatisches Museum: Profile
  2. Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz press release from December 18, 2018 : Personal details in the Board of Trustees: Barbara Helwing becomes director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Claudia Martin-Konle takes over the use department of the State Library , accessed on December 19, 2018

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '14.5 "  N , 13 ° 23' 48.5"  E