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The 11 best museums in Berlin

From major historical exhibitions to quirky local galleries, find out about the best museums in Berlin
Reichstag
Reichstag
By Nathan Ma |
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A city in constant flux, the history of Berlin is as complicated as it is harrowing. The city’s many museums help untangle the making of today’s German capital: looking at the history of the city from Hitler’s rule to the Cold War. From preserved segments of the Berlin Wall to a history of the classic currywurst, there’s no shortage of institutions to check out in the city – some very serious and some a bit sillier. Browse our list of 11 Berlin museums for an overview of what not to miss along the way.

Best museums in Berlin

1
Schwules Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Assenmacher

Schwules Museum

What is it?
Since 1985, the Schwules Museum has presented a survey of contemporary and historical records of the lives and times of queer and trans people in Germany. Spread across four exhibition spaces, the museum has an invaluable and internationally renowned collection.

Why go?
The museum's developed an on-the-pulse position in the past few years: recent presentations include comic book superheroes and an event series on queer-feminist futurism.

2
Jüdisches Museum Berlin
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/glasseyes view

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

What is it?
Dive deep into the history of Jewish people around the world in the world-famous Jewish Museum. It's a vibrant celebration of Jewish history and culture housed in an architecturally-renowned building by Daniel Libeskind.

Why go?
Plan to spend a few hours: the exhibitions here are extensively researched and thoughtfully presented. Fully untangling the stories of migration, diversity, and the persecution of Jewish people in Germany may take some time but is well worth the effort.

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3
Deutsches Currywurst Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Assenmacher

Deutsches Currywurst Museum

What is it?
The Deutsches Currywurst Museum is a tribute to the classic treat. Traditionally served as a sliced bratwurst with fresh chips and a healthy dollop of mayonnaise and curry-ketchup, the pop-culture phenomenon takes centre stage at this museum just blocks from Checkpoint Charlie. Come hungry for a taste of Germany's most popular on-the-go snack.

Why go?
Learn about the humble history of the currywurst, and then try one for yourself from the extensive menu at the on-site canteen.

4
East Side Gallery
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Lorenzo Giardi

East Side Gallery

What is it?
What was once the Berlin Wall is now a 1.3km gallery remembering the city divided. Located just off Warschauer Strasse on the border of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, the East Side Gallery is flush with tourists looking to experience the size and stature of the wall that once split the city in two.

Why go?
The most iconic portraits and murals remain on the walls, so grab a beer and take a walk through the recent history of Berlin — it's a popular spot for a summertime beer on the riverbanks, so you won't be alone.

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5
Reichstag
Reichstag

Reichstag

What is it?
There are few more recognizable parts of the city's skyline than Berlin's Reichstag. The historic parliamentary building has changed hands countless times since its construction in 1871 and is now the city's calling card.

Why go?
As one of the most visited attractions in all of Germany, be sure to book a tour ahead of time for an opportunity to see the city from the 360-degree glass dome at the top of the building.

6
Modell Park Berlin
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Sebastian Niedlich

Modell Park Berlin

What is it?
If you don't have time to explore the surrounding region of Brandenburg, hop on a tram to Modell Park Berlin for an overview of all the local attractions on a pint-sized scale.

Why go?
From the Siegessäule to the Reichstag, the model park is home to dozens of miniature buildings along with insightful texts on why we should remember them. It's a short train ride outside of the city's centre, but bring a picnic and enjoy the outer-city ease.

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7
Hamburger Bahnof
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Garrett Ziegler

Hamburger Bahnhof

What is it?
Berlin's primo contemporary art museum, Hamburger Bahnhof is the name on the tip of everyone's tongue. A rich collection of works from Beuys, Twombly, and Warhol is accentuated by travelling exhibitions and temporary showcases of cutting-edge talent and household names.

Why go?
In addition to the world-class collection of artwork, space itself is not to be missed: the museum takes its name from the former Berlin–Hamburg rail station, and the echoes of grandeur can still be heard in the airy halls under high ceilings.

8
Design Panoptikum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ross Edwin Thompson

Design Panoptikum

What is it?
In the sleepy streets of up-and-coming neighbourhood Moabit, the Design Panoptikon remembers visions of the future taken from the past. The collection is half designer furniture and half grotesque drafts that were tossed back on the drawing board.

Why go?
Browse through the carnival of mid-industrial wonders like cyborg-mannequin prototypes and space-age lanterns. The owner Vlad is happy to give tours of the many wonders in his emporium on the hour.

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9
Museum für Naturkunde
Thomas Rosenthal

Museum für Naturkunde

What is it?
Though not known for its exotic wildlife, Germany is home to one of the most extensive collections of zoological and paleontological specimens in the world.

Why go?
From preserved sharks to fossilized plants and the skeleton of Bobby the Gorilla from the Berlin Zoo, the Museum für Naturkunde is a hotspot for scientists and tourists from around the globe. Be sure not to miss the Giraffatitan skeleton—it's the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world.

10
Puppentheater Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Nikolaus H.

Puppentheater Museum

What is it?
Equal parts creepy and cute, the quaint Puppentheatre Museum in Neukölln is home to more than 300 puppets and marionettes.

Why go?
Their cheerful and cherubic faces are a thing of nightmares for some, but others might be interested in the dolls’ personal histories and cultural heritage. For those who dare, readings are scheduled regularly for both children and adults.

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11
Berlin Neues Museum
Berlin Neues Museum

Neues Museum

What is it?
It's hard to argue with the impressive collection of ancient artefacts housed at Berlin's Neues Museum. The building itself is a work of art: extensive damage incurred during World War II left the structure crumbling, but an in-depth architectural revival led to the museum's reopening in 2009 to much acclaim.

Why go?
The Neues Museum hosts a number of immediately recognizable pieces. A personal highlight? Drop by the original bust of Nefertiti.

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