Anyone visiting Berlin in the next few months should plan on visiting the beloved Pergamonmuseum, which will soon be closed until 2027.
As part of the ambitious Museum Island Master Plan, the museum will be completely closed to visitors starting October 23, 2023. The institution is not scheduled to partially reopen until spring 2027 – with some sections of the museum, including the famous Ishtar Gate, scheduled to stay closed until 2037.
This does not come as a surprise: the museum’s most iconic monument, the Pergamon Altar, has been under renovation for several years, and a full closure has been planned for some time. But before the most extensive renovations begin, travelers can still make the most of their visit and see current museum highlights.
Crowds are expected to flock to the Pergamon this summer, and the museum is preparing for them. Beginning July 1, 2023 until the closure, the opening hours of the Pergamonmuseum will be extended by an hour on Thursdays, until 7pm, and by two hours the rest of the week (excluding Mondays), until 8pm.
What is the Museum Island Master Plan?
Developed by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the State of Berlin, the Museum Island Master Plan aims to turn Berlin into one of Europe’s most accessible and sustainable museum destinations.
The first phase focused on the renovation and expansion of the James-Simon-Galerie, which was completed in 2021. This is a central entry point to Museum Island and introduces visitors to its extraordinary cultural offerings.
The next phase of the plan focuses on renovating and restoring the neighboring institutions. Once completed, the third phase will involve the development of new exhibition spaces and improved visitor facilities. A new central square and a pedestrian zone will connect all five of the island’s museums: the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Bode-Museum, in addition to the Pergamonmuseum.
Such a massive cultural project has never before been undertaken in Germany, and a final completion date has not yet been set. According to the island’s developers, however, such a massive project is a necessary step to improve and preserve the cultural heritage of these world-class museums for generations to come.
Is a Museum Pass still worth it?
As the Pergamonmuseum is one of the biggest draws for purchasing the €29 Museum Pass, this is a fair question to ask. Museums in Berlin are considered slightly more expensive than those in other European capitals, and the Museum Pass is a no-brainer for those who want to visit the Pergamonmuseum during a cultural visit. However, even without the Pergamon on the list, the pass gives visitors access to 29 other museums, including the remaining four museums on Museum Island – making the investment well worth it.
Berlin has so many engrossing cultural offerings that the closure of the Pergamonmuseum will not feel like a huge loss. The new Exile Museum will open in 2026 in a space at Anhalter Bahnhof, an abandoned train station in Berlin that played a significant role in the deportation of Jewish people during the Nazi regime. Additionally, the old airport tower in Tempelhof now has an exhibition floor and a rooftop terrace, and the Freedom and Unity Monument in front of the Humboldt Forum is expected to open soon.
Other ways to save on Berlin museums
As you plan your trip to Berlin, consider timing it to take advantage of Museums Sunday. On the first Sunday of each month, approximately 60 museums in the city open their doors free of charge. This is an excellent opportunity to visit Museum Island as well as many of the other countless museums and galleries all over Berlin. Just make sure to book your tickets well in advance: I have lived in Berlin for over six years, and I still have difficulty getting tickets for the Pergamonmuseum on this day.
Berlin is also stepping up its cultural offering for its own citizens. An annual pass for the Berlin State Museums is ideal for anyone spending at least a couple of months in the German capital. And with the new Berlin Youth Pass, Berliners under the age of 23 can enjoy €50 in credit toward cultural activities all around the city. Since this is Berlin, valid activities include clubbing.