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A Place Solely for the Contemplation of Art

Exhibition and Documentation of Major Architectural Competition for the Museum Island, 1883-84 / Opening on September 16 / Press Tour 10 a.m.

№ 253/2015 from Aug 26, 2015

In 1883 the Prussian Ministry of Culture advertised an architectural competition to design the Museum Island in Berlin. Now for the first time all the submitted blueprints are being documented in an exhibition and a book. The works by German and Austrian architects belong to a cultural and art historical period during the time when the German Empire was rising to become a Great Power. The exhibition will include digitized original blueprints, historical light prints, sketches, journals, photographs, and paintings. The competition was intended to create a unique space for the contemplation of ancient and modern art in the area between the New Museum, the metropolitan railway line, and the tip of the Spree Island. The center of the area was intended to be for the Pergamon Altar along with the archaeological finds from Pergamon and Olympia. But the, at that time, world's largest collection of casts as well as the rapidly expanding collection of paintings and sculptures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that were being collected by Wilhelm von Bode, also needed new exhibition rooms. The exhibition and accompanying monograph were designed along with students as part of a seminar project. The project managers were Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy, professor of art history at Technische Universität Berlin; Nikolaus Bernau, architecture historian and critic as well as museum historian; and Dr. Hans-Dieter Nägelke, director of the Museum of Architecture, Technische Universität Berlin This project is part of a larger research project of the Topoi Cluster of Excellence that deals with the use of ancient art and buildings in modern times. Representatives of the media are cordially invited to attend a tour organized for media reps followed by a discussion. RSVP to

Tour of the Exhibition for Members of the Media

"Museumsvisionen. Der Wettbewerb zur Erweiterung der Museumsinsel 1883/84"

[Museum – Envisioned: An Exhibition on the Museum Island Development Competition of 1883/84]

September 16

10 a.m.

Showroom of the Bauakademie, Schinkelplatz 1, 10117 Berlin-Mitte

There will be a press conference at 11 a.m. as well as an opportunity for interviews with the project leaders and involved students. The exhibition will be open from September 17 through October 11, 2015. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.

The submitted blueprints along with historical information about the development of the Royal Museums during the period of rapid growth of the German Empire, the significance of the jury, and Prussian cultural policy will be on display in the exhibition room at Schinkelplatz . The exhibition demonstrates how the competition for the development of the Museum Island was one of the most important architectural competitions of the German Empire.

Architectural competitions are still an important medium for societies to make decisions about their conceptions of architecture, museums, and educational content. The exhibition provides interesting insights into historical visions of museums, in particular with regard to current building activity on the Museum Island or the Cultural Forum in Berlin. Even though none of the proposed projects was implemented directly, the competition had a major influence on the Museum Island that emerged and continues to evolve today, a place dedicated solely to viewing and experiencing art.

The book accompanying the exhibition is the first historical classification of the competition. It contains photographs and commentary gathered and written by the project managers, architecture historians, and 18 students from Technische Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Most of the blueprints reproduced in the book are from the collections of the Museum of Architecture of Technische Universität Berlin. Some others were traced to Lemgo or Vienna. The book costs 39.90 euros in bookstores (25 euros during the exhibition when purchased there), and it may be purchased by journalists at the press conference for a nominal fee of 10 euros.

The exhibition was designed in cooperation with students in the class "Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum" taught by Johann Jörg at TU Berlin.

The Topoi Cluster of Excellence is a research network with a focus on the study of the ancient world hosted by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The two universities cooperate closely with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Further Information

Exhibition Documentation

Nikolaus Bernau, Hans-Dieter Nägelke, and Bénédicte Savoy (eds.): Museumsvisionen. Der Wettbewerb zur Erweiterung der Museumsinsel 1883/84, Kiel: Verlag Ludwig, 2015.

Press Contact

Dr. Nina Diezemann, Topoi Cluster of Excellence, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel. +49 30 838-73190, Email: