Bode Museum

In preparing for my one-day conference on cultural institutions, I have been asked to reflect on what have been powerful cultural experiences during my lifetime.   This has led me to revisit the Bode Museum (the old Kaiser-Friedrich Museum) as homework, which, alongside the Neues Museum and the old Ethnologisches Museum in Dahlem, I think of as amongst the most powerful cultural experiences in Berlin, itself one of the most culture-laden, museological experiences.   Of course, on entering it, I immediately realise that I like it for what are probably all the wrong reasons:  it’s quiet;  it has a strong sense of its own history;  it is not part of the tourist gravy train;  and it has a great collection, much of it displayed in daylight with a minimum of interpretation.   But there is also the memory of my first visit to Berlin, crossing the border to East Berlin in September 1972;  and of other visits to the Bode Museum.   I would be sorry if the demand for new types of museological experience negated the old.

The display of the sculptures from the parapet, charred by war, give it an immediate sense of history:-

This is a reliquary bust:-

 A bust of King David (c.1460):-


    2 thoughts on “Bode Museum

    1. Yes, yes and yes to everything you say here. Similarly, my first visit to the Bode Museum was in an eerily quiet East Berlin, albeit in the 1980s – even so, the events of the Second World War felt very close in the scarred and empty museum.

      The wonderful thing about the Bode Museum today is that it does mount museologically radical exhibitions such as The Lost Museum show in 2015 – as well as showing its collection with such lucidity.

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