Museums in Germany
Today Germany has a reputation for being a trendy hub of innovation. With its cool cafés, booming vegan culture, iconic music scene and avant-garde street artists, it attracts tourists who want to experience its modernity. The country also cherishes its history and values its relationships with its European neighbours. The museums of Germany are proof of this, being among the best Europe has to offer.
Whether you drive to Germany from Calais or Rotterdam or you will be able to discover the country’s heritage and connections with the rest of the Old Continent through cleverly curated collections. We have picked four amazing German museums that offer spectacular paintings for your viewing pleasure, plus architectural wonders and exquisite objects from centuries ago.
The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, or Old Masters Gallery, is located within the stunning Zwinger in Dresden; a baroque palace that was turned into a museum complex. At the Old Masters Gallery, only the crème de la crème of Italian, Dutch, and French painters are exhibited. Raphael’s The Sistine Madonna is a central focus of the gallery. Painted in 1512, it features a beautiful Virgin Mary, but the most famous characters of this composition are the two cherubs at the bottom – you have probably seen them on everything from posters to mugs.
Wandering through the colourful rooms, you will see Titian’s famous Sleeping Venus. It represents the nude goddess asleep, a depiction that influenced many painters. Other exquisite pieces you must admire include Jan Van Eyeck’s Dresden Triptych, Rubens’ Drunken Hercules (probably from too many delicious German beers!), and Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede. Take the time to admire their intricate details: you will want to immortalise them in your mind.
Like Dresden, Berlin had the clever idea of conveniently uniting many fantastic museums in the same place. Situated on the Spree River, the riveting Museum Island possesses so many essential pieces of history that it won the coveted title of UNESCO World Heritage site. While the Altes Museum and Neus Museum boast artefacts mostly from Greece and Egypt, the Pergamon museum is focused on the antiquity of the Middle East, owing its name to an ancient Greek city in Turkey that became the centre of a powerful kingdom. This particular museum is renowned for its monumental reconstructions incorporating original material, including the stunning Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market Gate of Miletus. The Pergamon Altar is under refurbishment until 2025 but that should not deter you from enjoying its other breathtaking exhibits.
After a walk on the bank of the Alster river, head to the beautiful Kunsthalle museum of Hamburg. The Kunsthalle offers a great collection of European masters’ art, including paintings signed by the likes of Fragonard and Goya. However, unlike Dresden’s museum, the Kunsthalle also boasts outstanding masterpieces from the 19th century onwards. This larger timeline will allow you to witness the evolution of painting techniques and approaches, from Impressionism to Symbolism, with the collection displaying the works of Claude Monet and Edgar Degas.
If you’re curious about contemporary art you’ll be just as pleased, as the Kunsthalle exhibits works by David Hockney and Andy Warhol. There is a lot to explore, so you can split your visit: come in the morning perhaps, have a lunch break at a rustic Hamburg’s restaurant, and then resume your exploration.
Founded in 1852, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum’s aim was to document the culture and heritage of the united German-speaking regions. It therefore reunites an incredible amount of art, architectural and historical works, dating from Prehistory to contemporary time. There is no doubt that you will find an artefact that will spark your curiosity among the 1.3 million objects this museum boasts.
If you’re a fashion lover, you will be delighted by the gallery exhibiting clothing from the 18th century: intricate dresses, exquisite shoes, vintage swimwear… It will be hard not to want to slip in one of them! Moreover, it will be just as difficult not to want to redecorate your living room with some of the Rococo decorative objects the museum also displays. Children will be particularly delighted by the toys gallery: tin figures, handmade dolls houses, board games… They might show up on their next Christmas list! A visit to this museum is a nice way of wrapping a holiday in Germany, as it will leave you with an all-encompassing view of the country.
With museums in Germany to suit all tastes, book your ferry to Europe today and discover these cultural delights for yourself.