Art & Design Museums in Berlin

Berlin is full of art museums. With works from the prehistoric period right until the modern day and everything in between, there’s something for every kind of art or design lover to see in Berlin. You could easily spend a week in Berlin only visiting art museums, and still not see everything. Here are a selection of the best ones to check out.

Museuminsel

The handful of museums located all conveniently together on the Museuminsel (or Museum Island, an island between the river and a connecting canal) in central Berlin are all very much worth your time. They can all be visited on the 3-day Museum Pass for €29, as well as 25 other museums around the city not mentioned here. This will save you a lot of money compared to paying for each one individually, as well as time queuing, so definitely consider investing in it if you’re planning on hopping from one to the other.

On the Museuminsel, there are five of the most important museums in Berlin. The Altes Museum is full of paintings from the old masters and a massive collection of antiques, mostly from ancient Greece. The Neues Museum has an impressive collection of artefacts from prehistoric times and ancient Egypt, and most famously is the current home of the bust of Queen Nefertiti. The Alte Nationalgalerie houses many paintings from the neoclassical and romantic periods, and is home to one of the largest collections of art (both paintings and sculptures) from the 19th century anywhere in Germany. The Bode Museum mostly, but not exclusively, showcases sculpture and Byzantine art, as well as pieces from the Christian Orient. And finally, the Pergamon Museum has a large collection of Islamic art and other antiquities, most famously the Pergamon Altar, for which the museum is named.

Altes Museum in Berlin by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Bauhaus Archiv

Home to a massive collection of everything relating to the Bauhaus design movement of the 1920s and 30s, this complex has a permanent exhibition of teaching material, photography, paintings, textiles, ceramics, sculptures, furniture, and more from that era. If you come on a Sunday in the summer months (between July and September), there is a free tour in English of the museum at 3pm that takes you around the highlights and gives you historical context to everything on display. There is also a pleasant café and shop, where you can purchase Bauhaus-style memorabilia and souvenirs.

Bauhaus Archiv in Berlin by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Museum für Fotografie

This grand building houses both temporary photography exhibitions from around the world, by renowned and up-and-coming photographers, as well as the permanent loan collection of Helmut Newton, arguably one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Beyond his photography, which is largely of female nudes, many of his personal effects are on display, such as cameras he employed for his art. The space is calm and tranquil, and the subdued opulence of the building serves as an elegant canvas for the art on display.

Museum für Fotografie in Berlin by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Dalí Museum

Boasting 450 pieces from private collections from all around the world, this museum offers a fascinating insight into the life and work of the surrealist Catalonian artist, Salvador Dalí. Not only paintings, but also drawings, etchings, woodcuts, sculptures, texts, and film footage are on display, giving a complete picture of his oeuvre. Details of the design of the interior of the museum have been playfully chosen to recreate aspects of his paintings, including a lip sofa and a piano with a tree growing from it. Guided tours are available almost every hour, and museum staff stationed around the exhibition are happy to answer questions and give explanations should you so desire.

Dali Museum in Berlin by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Have you ever been to any art or design museums in Berlin? If so, do you have any suggestions or tips for people? If not, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Sam Wood

Sam is originally from London, living nomadically since 2010 teaching English as a foreign language, and is now based in Berlin. He's a wannabe minimalist and language geek, working and often traveling with his husband, Zab. On his blog, Indefinite Adventure, he chronicles their journey as two city boys looking for the best vegan food, street art, and most interesting things to do in any given destination.
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