The concept of the Bode museum, which was originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, can be traced back to Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, who published her ideas in a memorandum in 1883. It was Wilhelm von Bode who finally put these ground-breaking ideas into practice. In 1897, construction work began at the northern tip of the Museum Island on a museum that was to be devoted to the Renaissance, designed by Eberhard von Ihne.
Once completed, the museum would bear the name of Empress Victoria’s deceased husband, Kaiser (Emperor) Friedrich, who died in 1888. When the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum opened in 1904, painting and sculpture, considered at the time as the ‘high arts’, were for the first time presented side by side on an equal footing with each other - a presentation strategy that differed radically from that of traditional museums.
The building was badly damaged in the Second World War and underwent several stages of restoration between 1948 and 1986. In 1956 it was renamed the Bode-Museum after its first director and spiritual founder. German reunification also brought with it the merging of the previously separated collections under the auspices of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, with the decision soon being taken for the museum to undergo an extensive overhaul to bring it up to date with modern museum and conservation requirements.
After extensive renovation work, the museum building reopened to the public in autumn 2006. Contrary to the original concept, it now principally houses the Sculpture Collection and the Museum of Byzantine Art. The display of sculptures is enriched by some 150 works from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie, which has been located at the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz since 1998. With its collection of coins and medals, the Münzkabinett is also housed at the Bode-Museum, where it presents its chronicle of human history forged in metal.
Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art features an array of spell-binding masterpieces such as Donatello’s ‘Pazzi Madonna’ and Antonio Canova’s ‘Dancer’ and several examples of important German sculpture by Tilman Riemenschneider and Ignaz Günther. The collection of ancient sculpture is one of the largest in the world. It has its roots in the Brandenburg-Prussian royal Kunstkammer or ‘cabinet of art’. The efforts of two men, Gustav Friedrich Waagen and especially Wilhelm von Bode, resulted in the significant development of the collection in the 19th and early 20th century through the acquisition of great numbers of sculptures mainly of Italian and German origin. In the building that rises up from the Spree like a moated palace, the collection was presented in a startlingly innovative fashion that broke with traditional museum practice at the time. Combined with historical architectural elements, the works of art were displayed in surroundings that were supposed to convey the spirit of the age in which they were created and thus ‘heighten’ their visual impact.
The museum’s department of Byzantine art boasts first-class holdings of late-antique and Byzantine works of art ranging from the 3rd to 15th century. Nearly all the works originate from the ancient Mediterranean region, with particular emphasis on pre-Christian and Christian sarcophagi from Rome, figurative and ornamental sculpture from the Eastern Roman Empire, exquisite ivory carvings and mosaic icons, as well as everyday and religious objects from post-pharaonic Egypt.
With over half a million objects, Berlin’s Münzkabinett (Numismatic Collection) is one of the most important numismatic collections in the world. Alongside coins and medals, the collection also contains non-numismatic forms of money, seals, tokens, and jetons as well as minting tools. Spread over four large cabinets on the second floor containing 4000 coins and medals, the exhibition in the Bode-Museum presents a history of humankind in metal, from the beginnings of coinage in the 7th century BC to the euro coins of the present day. All exhibits can also be viewed in the online interactive catalogue, where they are described in more detail. Further treasures in the collection currently not on view in exhibitions are available for scientific research in the study room on the Bode-Museum’s lower floor, where the numismatic special library can also be used.References:
The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.
British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.
Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.
Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.
On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.