The new entrance building for Berlin’s Museum Island, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, opens this summer
Words by Sophie Tolhurst
The James-Simon-Galerie by David Chipperfield Architects is the entrance building for Berlin’s Museum Island. Due to open this summer, the new 10,900m² structure will provide a visitor centre for the island and convening spaces for groups, as well as temporary exhibition space, an auditorium, cafe and museum shop. It will also connect the museums: at basement level the ‘archaeological promenade’ links the Neues Museum, the Altes museum and the Bode Museum, while the Pergamonmuseum is accessible from above ground.
The building constitutes a major part of a masterplan initiated in 1999 and adopted as the basis for all future planning on the island. Visually, the design complements the island’s older buildings, with slender columns, which continue the colonnade of Friedrich Stüler’s forum architecture, and the outdoor staircases and built topography, which define the rest of the island. The exterior is reconstituted stone with natural stone aggregate; inside there are smooth concrete walls and wooden surfaces, such as rich oak parquet and walnut veneer.
James Simon was a significant patron for the city of Berlin, donating his art collections to the Berlin State museums at the beginning of the 20th century. This new addition will enhance the visitor experience, ease congestion for the other museums, and add to the public realm, with a significant swathe of space accessible outside of museum opening hours.