Thursday, August 12, 2004

11/8/04 Berlin (What to do next? Museums and such.)

I head to the newsagents and get a copy of a Berlin Guide. The most likely thing is the “Museum Island” which is just down the road a little way, so of I head. As I approach I can see the dome of the Bode, but it is closed. A pity, so I keep going till I come to the Pergammon. As I walk past one of the museum wings and up into the forecourt I get the impression that it is a dirty and grubby place. I have very vague memories of dirty public buildings like this in some of the Australian capital cities when I was a very young child. A minute or two passes before the penny finally drops. There are many chips and pockmarks on the walls, the black is the result of fires and it is all un attended war damage! Anyway I buy my ticket and go into the museum. Well, this is unlike any other museum I have ever been in. The first impressions are that there are no human sized objects, no pots or tools or other relics of a human past. No, the museum is full of buildings! Nothing done by half measures here. If a previous culture was worthy, it seems its monuments were taken in their entirety. None of this namby pamby stuff like Elgin did with the Greek Marbles, taking only the interesting bits. The equivalent German collectors just took the whole building! While uncomfortable with the values that lead to this, the collection is an extraordinary impressive one. Not only that, it brings back first year history lessons with Mrs Kemp. As I enter one of the museum wings there is the Ishtar Gate. I remember the pictures of the blue walls in my history books and there they are, larger than life. Overall, the Pergammon is a really interesting visit, almost as much for what it says about 19th century mores, than the abilities of these older day peoples.
Leaving the museum precinct I wander back up the river towards the Reichstag. Of course now I am prepared for the little hints I see around me. There are very few old buildings to be seen and when I finally do get to the Reichstag, I am fully prepared to see the patches on what must have been an almost shattered building. Memories of the grainy black and white pictures of Russian troops with their flags are strong. Almost 60 years ago to the day. Anyway, the lines to gain entrance to the building stretch out for many tens of metres, down the steps and out onto the grassed area. Because I only plan to stay in Berlin for this one day I decide to give the inside of the building a miss and head back for the railway station.

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