Neues Museum (The New Museum)

If you ever have the duty of naming a new museum, you would be well advised to call it something else, rather than “The New Museum”, because 165 years later it might still (or again) be there and not be as new as it once was.

The same goes for bridges, such as the New Bridge in Paris and the New Bridge in Toulouse, both of which are now the oldest bridges in their respective cities.

Nefertiti or Nofretete

In a sense, though, the New Museum in Berlin really is new, because it was half-destroyed by bombings in the Second World War and not re-built until the 21st century by the English architect David Chipperfield. In some places he has made very clear what parts of the building are original and which are new, so you can get an idea of how much (or how little) was still standing after the war.

The New Museum displays “6000 years of human history” with emphasis on Ancient Egypt, but also “the history of the ancient world from the Near East to the Atlantic, and from North Africa to Scandinavia, over thousands of years.” The most famous exhibit is the bust of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti (or Nofretete), which is in one of the few rooms where photography is not allowed. Fortunately there was a large poster of her hanging between two pillars on the outside of the museum.

Amazon on Horseback

In front of the entrance there is a bronze sculpture of a woman riding bareback (and barefoot) on a horse with a battle axe in her hand. This is “Amazon on Horseback” by the sculptor Louis Tuaillon (1862–1919), which was cast in bronze in 1895. This must have been a quite famous sculpture at the time, because there are two other castings of it in different parts of Berlin. The Amazons were legendary female warriors who were supposed to have been extremely ferocious fighters, which is certainly how they are presented in the play Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) and the opera of the same name by Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957).

To me the woman on horseback in the statue does not look particularly ferocious, but never mind.


Ancient Egyptian sculptures in the New Museum

My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Berlin, Germany.

4 thoughts on “Neues Museum (The New Museum)”

  1. I wonder if this was open last time we were in Berlin? I don’t remember reading of it. It’s great that photos are allowed in much of the museum even if not everywhere. Maybe the Amazon was taking a break from all the fighting to reflect? I agree she looks more thoughtful than fierce!

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