Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Neues Museum

I recently discovered that students 18 years or younger receive free admission at all public museums in Berlin. Fortunately for me, I still have a few months of being 18 left, and I intend to exploit that to the fullest. Today, I visited the Neues Museum on the Museumsinsel. It may be named the new museum, but the building is still over 100 years old. It had essentially two distinct halves, an Egyptian half and a Classics / early Europe half. This meant that you might be admiring Germanic jewelry and suddenly find yourself surrounded by pharaohs.

I found it particularly interesting how the two halves interconnected on occasion. The Egyptian sarcophagi and the European stone coffins displayed in the afterlife exhibit looked rather similar in a few cases. Furthermore, the late Egyptian busts occasionally supported the curly beards of Greek statues. Early Greek statues also borrowed the Egyptian pose where the statue is in mid step, left foot forward.

My absolute favorite exhibit displayed large segments of walls from one of the pharaohs' tomb. I do not recall which pharaoh, or if he had a full fledged Pyramid with a capital P. I do know that the hieroglyphs and depictions of everyday life were incredibly beautiful. Sadly, the centuries had worn away most of the paint, but even in beige the artwork sang to me. I could not tell half the time if something was supposed to be a bird or a bird shaped hieroglyph. Both received equal levels of detail. Interestingly, the purpose of all the artwork was not to depict the pharaoh's life, but to provide for his afterlife. The carved servants and animals would serve the pharaoh in death and spare him from having to take servants and animals with him into the beyond. How considerate!

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