Located on the northern end of "Museum Island" in the heart of Berlin, the Bode Museum is a must for anyone interested in art, particularly medieval art. Founded in 1904, the Bode Museum reopened in 2006 after extensive renovations. It contains a wealth of art and artifacts from the Byzantine and Medieval periods, primarily from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Spain.
The Museum Building
Designed by head government building officer Ernst von Ihne, the Bode Museum is built in the style known as "Wilhelminian Baroque" for Wilhelm II. It is a stately, palatial building with its outer wings directly overlooking the River Spree on both sides of Museum Island.
The northwest corner of the museum, which occupies the end of the island, is topped with a large Baroque dome. A smaller dome at the other end overlooks train tracks that run across the island. The interior is bright and spacious and decorated with fine architectural details.
The Bode Museum houses three major collections of the Staatliche Museum (National Museum): the Sculpture Collection, the Museum of Byzantine Art, and the Numismatic Collection.
The Sculpture Collection
The extensive Sculpture Collection displayed in the Bode Museum encompasses works from the Early Middle Ages to the late 18th century, primarly from the German-speaking world, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Italian sculpture is especially well-represented.
The Museum of Byzantine Art
The only one of its kind in Germany, the Museum of Byzantine Art within the Bode Museum displays art and artifacts from Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period. The objects are mostly from the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, Egypt, and North Africa.
Only the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul surpasses Berlin's collection of sculpture from the Eastern Roman Empire. Items on display include Early Christian sarcophagi, tombstones, inscriptions, ivory reliefs, mosaics, icons, objects from daily life such as belt buckles, and various liturgical objects.
The Numismatic Collection
The Bode Museum is the primary home of Berlin's extraordinary collection of coins and other forms of currency. Ranging in date from the 7th century BC to the 21st century, the Numismatic Collection includes 102,000 ancient Greek coins; 50,000 ancient Roman coins; 160,000 European coins from the Middle Ages to modern times; 35,000 Oriental-Islamic coins; and 25,000 medals, an art form that began to develop around 1400 AD.
The collection also includes paper money, medieval seals, and various types of money used by primitive peoples. Finally, there are more than 15,000 minting tools and a large collection of casts.
More coins can be seen elsewhere on Museum Island: 2,000 ancient coins from the Numismatic Collection are on permanent display at the Pergamon Museum and selected coins are exhibited at the Altes Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History.