As the new gateway to Berlin’s Museum Island, the James-Simon-Galerie which has just been completed and opened for the public plays a significant role and is suitable for welcoming large numbers of visitors.
The building addresses itself to a garden as well as the Palace Bridge and a canal forming a physical connection above ground with the Pergamon Museum and linking the museum via the Archaeological Promenade at basement level with the Neues Museum, the Altes Museum and the Bode Museum.
The high stone plinth of the building reinforces the bank of the Kupfergraben canal, above which a tall colonnade rises up, expressing a classical piano nobile. Large parts of this principal level will be accessible to the public outside opening hours, further extending the public realm of the Museum Island.
Slender columns become a leitmotif, reminiscent of the famous sketch by Friedrich Wilhelm IV for his ‘cultural acropolis’. They continue Stüler’s colonnade that originally ended at Neues Museum in a contemporary form, creating a new small colonnaded courtyard between the Neues Museum and the James-Simon-Galerie.
Three flights of wide steps, set between the elongated plinth and the lower colonnade, invite visitors into the building. Arriving at the upper level, visitors enter a generous foyer, with info and ticket counters and direct level access to the main exhibition floor of the Pergamon Museum.
The architectural language of the James-Simon-Galerie adopts existing elements of the Museum Island, primarily from the external architecture, such as built topography, colonnades and outdoor staircases, making reference to Schinkel, Stüler and the other architects involved in the creation of Museum Island.
The materiality of the building in reconstituted stone with natural stone aggregate blends in with the rich material palette of the Museum Island with its limestone, sandstone and rendered façades, while smooth in-situ concrete dominates the interior spaces.
The entrance building is named after one of the city’s most important patrons, James Simon, who bequeathed his art collections and excavation findings to the Berlin State Museums at the beginning of the twentieth century.
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