The Neues Museum, Berlin: Restoration, Repair and Intervention
An exhibition in the Soane Gallery from 20 June to 6 September 2008
An exhibition of drawings and models from David Chipperfield Architects Neues Museum project.
Berlin's stunning Neues Museum, once home to one of Europe's finest collections of Egyptian antiquities including the famous bust of Nefertiti, is the subject of a major new exhibition this summer at Sir John Soane's Museum, showcasing the meticulous work of David Chipperfield Architects. In October 2009, following a daring and sensitive programme of renewal, the Neues Museum will open to the public again after spending five decades as a ravaged reminder of war.
The exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum will explore the philosophy and development of this remarkable project, using original site drawings. Chipperfield, an admirer of Sir John Soane's work, is famed for his sensitive - and yet daring - approach in the restoration and reuse of historic fabric.
Alongside the four other reconstructed museums on the island, Friedrich August Stueler's Neues Museum (originally built between 1841 - 1859) remained as a damaged, but compellingly powerful testament to war, history and decay for half a century. Certain interiors survived, with sections of elaborate finishes and frescoes intact, while other elements existed only as enclosures for gaping voids, investing the site with the presence of a picturesque classical ruin.
Given the unique atmosphere and symbolism of this space, David Chipperfield Architects' approach to the Neues Museum has sought to express a deliberate equilibrium between restoration, repair and intervention. The missing north-west wing and south-east dome are built anew and restoring the enfilade of the rooms. The great stair hall, which had lost all its original art work and roof, has been fitted with an updated roof structure, and the steps have been rebuilt maintaining Stueler's original configuration. In this way the Neues Museum and its collection of Antiquities will continue to present a delicate balance between the past, the present and the future - a truly Soanian challenge!