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James Simon Gallery | Opening Party for Everybody | 13.07.2019

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On Saturday, July 13th 2019, the James Simon Gallery will open with a big opening party for all those interested. The central reception building of the Museum Island Berlin, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, offers service, orientation and quality of stay. In addition to a special exhibition area and auditorium, spacious ticket, information and cloakroom areas, a café and restaurant, and the largest museum shop after the British Museum London, the James Simon Gallery leads directly to the tour of the Pergamon Museum and via the Archaeological Promenade to the Neues Museum. It is named after the great philanthropist, patron and Jewish citizen of the world James Simon (1851-1932). On the occasion of the opening, a ceremonial act will take place the day before, on Friday, July 12th 2019, in the presence of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Image above: James-Simon-Galerie, Ansicht von der Schlossbrücke / View from Schlossbrücke, © Ute Zscharnt für / for David Chipperfield Architects

Born in Berlin as the son of a wealthy textile dynasty, James Simon stands for a cultural and social commitment that is second to none. Not only did he promote the education of broad classes and help the socially disadvantaged, he was also a passionate art collector who donated to the Royal Museums extraordinary collections of important works of art, which to this day are among the greatest treasures of the Berlin collections. As a co-founder of the German Oriental Society, Simon also financed numerous excavations. The Nefertiti bust, which was recovered in Tell el-Amarna in 1912 and donated by James Simon to the Berlin museums in 1920, is regarded as the most important find of these excavations.

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James Simon, ca. 1901, Photo: Privat

With the James Simon Gallery, the ensemble of the Museum Island Berlin is experiencing its architectural completion after 180 years. Together with the Archaeological Promenade, it forms the heart of the Museum Island Master Plan, which was developed in 1999 to preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the same time transform it into a contemporary museum complex. Created on the only available open space on the Museum Island, the central Visitor Centre performs crucial service functions, receives large groups of visitors with a total area of around 10,900 square metres, and is the only museum complex in the world to offer a large number of visitors the opportunity to visit the Museum Island and leads you to the highlights of the main tour of the Museum Island. Characteristic features are the large open staircase and the colonnades of extreme slender columns, the elements of the surrounding historical architecture, and the to take up the issue.

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James-Simon-Galerie, View towards Pergamonmuseum, © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

For the opening ceremony on Saturday, July 13th 2019, the National Museums in Berlin are inviting you to a big day of action in the new entrance building from 10 am to 9 pm. Adults and families with children can explore the new building in workshops, exhibition talks and guided tours. Musical activities, a museum bingo and snacks and drinks inside and outside complete the programme. Participation in all activities and admission to the James Simon Gallery is free of charge.

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James-Simon-Galerie, Upper foyer, main internal staircase, © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation: “The James Simon Gallery is more than just a gateway to Berlin’s Museum Island, far more than just a much-needed service building. David Chipperfield’s building is a modern keystone, an architectural antithesis to the five historic buildings. David Chipperfield takes the ‘island’ into the 21st century and challenges it. The James Simon Gallery will be a place where the magnificent collections and also with intellectual as well as aesthetical to the persuasive questions of today.”

David Chipperfield: “The James Simon Gallery solves logistical and infrastructural problems of the museum ensemble and at the same time realises an architectural vision for the Museum Island. This important site encouraged us to look for a reading for the building that goes beyond its usefulness and is instead determined by general formal characteristics and a freer interpretation of its purpose”.

Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: “We are delighted to welcome our visitors to the Museum Island with the James Simon Gallery as the central entrance and service building. The architecture invites you to linger: The large open staircase can become Berlin’s ‘Spanish Staircase’, where Berliners meet with guests from all over the world and talk about the world-famous art and cultural assets to be discovered in the collections in the heart of Berlin.”

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James-Simon-Galerie, View towards Lustgarten, © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

The James Simon Gallery is now the sole entrance to the Pergamon Museum and one of two entrances to the Neues Museum until the completion of section A of the basic renovation of the Pergamon Museum. It leads directly to the tour of the Ancient Architectures on the upper floor of the Pergamonmuseum and, via the Archaeological Promenade, to the basement of the Neues Museum. According to the master plan, the Archaeological Promenade will in future connect four of the five museum buildings on the Museum Island Berlin from the Altes Museum to the Bode Museum. In addition to a permanent exhibition, which uses a model of the Museum Island and interactive media stations to inform visitors about the history of the site, the museums and the collections, the Archaeological Promenade will in future also feature major themes in the history of culture that link collections with objects from all the museums on the Museum Island. archaeological collections.

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James-Simon-Galerie, Foundation pile in the Archaeological Promenade, © SPK/photothek.net/Thomas Trutschel

Located right next to the Archaeological Promenade in the basement of the James Simon Gallery, the special exhibition room is available to all collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin for temporary exhibitions with an area of around 650 square metres and a flexible modular display case and partition wall system. Following the opening with a special presentation on the life of James Simon, the Gipsformerei will be showing a comprehensive presentation of its holdings for the first time from August 30th 2019 to March 1st 2020 under the title “Close to Life” on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. This will be followed, among other things, by the special exhibitions “Germanen. Fiction – Finds – Facts” by the Museum of Prehistory and Early History (2020-2021), a show on the history and archaeology of the Upper Egyptian city Achmîm-Panopolis (2021) organised by the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, and a special exhibition of masterpieces by the Museum of Islamic Art. of the Sarikhani Collection (2021-2022).

The auditorium, accessible via the lower foyer of the James Simon Gallery, can accommodate around 300 people and can be used for internal and external events. The The BMB Group-operated café and restaurant offers daily from 9:30 am to 11 pm with an interior designed by David Chipperfield Architects, space for around 90 people in its interior and 80 people on its sun terrace directly on the river Spree. During the day, the café offers food and drinks for a wide audience, and in the evening, the restaurant offers sophisticated cuisine with thematic references to the collections and exhibitions. The museum shop, which is run by the Walther König bookshop, is the largest and central shop on the Museum Island Berlin, offering books and merchandising products from all the island’s collections.

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James-Simon-Galerie, Auditorium, © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

Events and special presentations will be held around the opening of the James Simon Gallery to commemorate the great namesake: a film presentation on James Simon’s life, conceived with the help of the James Simon Foundation, will be shown in the special exhibition room. On July 12th 2019, an evening for James Simon will take place with the participation of Ann and Timothy M. Simon; a panel discussion will focus on the art of artistic giving and how patronage is represented today. The ZDF/3Sat documentary “The man who gave away Nefertiti – James Simon, the forgotten patron” will also be shown in the auditorium. On the occasion of the opening of the James Simon Gallery, the James Simon Cabinet in the Bode Museum in its original room.

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James-Simon-Galerie, View from the terrace towards Kupfergraben and Lustgarten, © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

“Without the generous civic commitment of countless sponsors, patrons and art lovers, the National Museums in Berlin would not be what they are today,” says General Director Michael Eissenhauer. “James Simon is representative of the many Jewish patrons whose significant work was forcibly wiped out by the National Socialist regime. I would like to mention here the publisher Rudolf Mosse, whom we remember at a central location in the James Simon Gallery, but also Eduard Arnhold, Richard von Kaufmann, Gustav Jacoby or Eduard Simon, the cousin of James Simons. It is one of our central concerns to commemorate these personalities in an appropriate way.”

Museum Island Berlin
Opening of the James Simon Gallery


Saturday, July 13th 2019, 10 am to 9pm


Bodestraße, 10178 Berlin-Mitte

Admission fee?

Free of charge

OPENING HOURS of the new house: Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat + Sun 9:30 am – 6:30 pm, Thu 9:30 am – 8:30 pm

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