A plan has been finalized for the world famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin to finally be renovated.
The ancient Pergamon Altar was seen as one of the world's wonders
A few years from now, Chancellor Angela Merkel won't have to look at the Pergamon Museum's crumbling walls in the morning when she leaves her home that sits right across from the museum's entrance.
That's because the world famous institution will undergo a major renovation. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has said that the work would cost 351 million euros ($416 million) and would start in 2011. Since 1991, 62 million euros have already been spent on repairing and modernizing the building that was badly damaged in World War II.
The reconstruction of central Berlin's Museum Island, where the Pergamon Museum and four other world class museums are located, is expected to cost 1.5 billion euros in total.
"We're responsible developers," said Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation head Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, in response to earlier suggestions the work would cost 2 billion euros. The federal government will pay for the reconstruction, which is expected to take 15 years.
The work will be completed on the basis of plans from Cologne architect Oswald Mathias Unger, who won the competition to redesign the building in 2000. His design includes a transparent fourth wing for the museum's monumental Egyptian architecture. Each of the museum's three collections -- Classical Antiquities, Islamic Art and Near Eastern Antiquities -- will be housed in separate wings with individual entrances.
It's not clear yet whether the museum will be open to the public during construction or whether the collections will be shown in other venues.
An impressive collection
The Pergamon Altar
The museum, which was built from 1912 to 1930, is one of Germany's biggest tourist attractions, with nearly one million visitors yearly. It possesses one of the world's largest collections of items from antiquity, including the famous Pergamon Altar (180-159 B.C.) -- in ancient times regarded as one of the wonders of the world -- which was recovered from an archeological dig in 1978-86 in what is now Turkey.
The building also houses segments of the legendary procession street leading to the Gate of Ishtar in Babylon from the reign of Nebuchadnezar II (604-562 B.C.) and the Roman market gate of Milet (120 B.C.).
Parts of the pediment of the Milet gate weighing 100 tons were dismantled last year because experts feared they would otherwise collapse. The repairs are expected to be completed in 2007.
In 1999, UNESCO declared the Museum Island a World Cultural Heritage Site.