Queen Nefertiti rules again in Berlin's reborn museum

Seventy years after it was destroyed by war, Neues's reopening hailed as miracle

For sixty-six years, much of the historic Neues Museum, Berlin's equivalent to the Louvre, was a bombed-out ruin in the heart of the city. Today it will reopen for visitors with a bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti taking pride of place, after a €212m (£193m) restoration masterminded by leading British architect David Chipperfield.

The museum was officially reinaugurated yesterday by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who lives opposite the cultural complex in the city's revamped centre. The renaissance of the museum, which contains 9,000 exhibits and artefacts ranging from a 700,000-year-old Stone Age shaped flint to a piece of barbed wire taken from the Berlin Wall, marks the return of one of Germany's most important cultural landmarks to the reunited city.

The event was described as a second miracle for Berlin after the fall of the dividing wall two decades ago. Michael Eissenhauer, general director of the city's museums, said the occasion was thrilling. "There is a wonderful electrifying power here," he said. "I won't ever experience a moment like this again in my life." Pride of place is occupied by the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, the Neues Museum's star exhibit, which has been reinstalled in its former resting place after spending the last days of the Second World War in a German salt mine and 29 years in a museum in the old West Berlin. Other exhibits include a ceremonial golden Bronze Age "wizard's hat" more than 2ft tall, dating from 1,000 BC.

The reopening of the museum also signified the final stage in the restoration of the 19th-century city centre "Museum Island" complex commissioned by the Prussian kaisers, after an interval lasting 70 years. "It is like the missing pearl being finally added to a necklace," said Hermann Parzinger, president of Germany's Prussian Cultural Foundation.

The complex was closed to the public in the autumn of 1939 and badly bombed during the Second World War. The Neues Museum suffered several hits during a Royal Air Force raid in 1943. Invading Red Army troops further damaged the building and plundered one of its most priceless exhibits, King Priam's treasure, the collection found by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. That was taken to Moscow where it is still housed in the city's Pushkin Museum. East Germany was unable to pay for repairs to the museum after the war.

As part of the restoration concept, Chipperfield chose to leave many of the wartime scars inflicted on the building untouched. In the main entrance, originally constructed in 1855 to a design by the German architect Friedrich August Stüler, the walls remain stripped back to bare brick. Inside, Chipperfield has installed an elegant modern staircase of white cement and marble.

He admitted that restoring a war ruin was a task unlike anything he had done before. "We felt very strongly that we should hold on to the original material," he said, "but that was a very difficult thing to describe to the public and there was a lot of emotional anxiety about what this would mean in the end." Despite harsh criticism from some interest groups, the restoration has been widely praised.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker