Across from the Bode Museum, directly on the S-Bahn bridge, is the modern temporary exhibition building “Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama”, which houses the exhibition “PERGAMON. Masterpieces of the Ancient Metropolis and 360° Panorama by Yadegar Asisi”.
The building was built especially for this exhibition and will initially remain open until the renovation of the Pergamon Museum is completed. At this point I can already state that the dismantling of this exhibition would really be a great pity. It has impressed and inspired me tremendously.
About “The Panorama”
The building, built in 2018, will host the exhibition “PERGAMON. Masterpieces of the ancient metropolis and 360° panorama by Yadegar Asisi” is shown. Together with the artist Asisi, the Collection of Classical Antiquities of the National Museums in Berlin “created” the city of Pergamon in the Roman period (about 129 AD). Well, not really the city as a replica, but as a huge panorama. Selected original objects from the Collection of Classical Antiquities are juxtaposed with the panorama and other digital visualizations, making them really comprehensible. The result is an impressive exhibition that combines the results of many years of archaeological and architectural research with the work of an artist and thus presents the public with an insight into the past.
What can you see in “Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama” see?
Entering the exhibition from the bright entrance area, one first enters a rather dark room. Statues shine in the room at points and magically attract my eye.
But first I want to learn something about the discovery of Pergamon and the exploration of the Pergamon Altar and read through a display board. I learn that in 1864/65, during a visit to the Turkish ruins, the German Carl Humann observed how relief slabs were smashed and lime was burned from the crushed rock. Fortunately, he realized that this resulted in the destruction of priceless cultural property. He succeeded in persuading the Berlin museums to obtain permission from the Turkish government for excavations. He succeeded and from 1878-1886 several excavations were carried out. Some of the finds came to the Berlin museums. In the rotunda of the Altes Museum, visitors could admire relief plates of the Pergamon Altar for the first time.
Today, over 100 years later, visitors still admire the beautiful pieces in Berlin. A small part of them can be seen in the “Pergamon Museum. The Panorama”.
What light can do …
After reading the most important information, I start my tour at the statues that had already captured my gaze when I entered the room. On display are a group of female figures, so-called robed statues. They originally stood on the terrace of the Pergamon Altar. Presumably they were used to honor deserving female citizens. I am fascinated by the ingenious lighting concept that not only makes the figures shine brightly in the room, but also makes each figure look completely different when the viewing angle is changed.
Only a few meters away is another statue of a woman. This one dates from the time 320-300 BC. When I read this date, I realize first of all how long these works of art have already been preserved and what they could tell, if they could talk, about world events. Unfortunately, the head of this marble figure is not preserved and so it is silent. Instead, the figure “speaks” through a wonderful light concept on its robe. By slowly changing the color of the light, the color design of the robe changes, making an initially somewhat cold white figure seem much warmer and more lively. The choice of colors is not arbitrary. We know that marble sculptures in Greek and Roman antiquity were usually colored and we also know the hues used. Organic and mineral substances were used for the colors, which have survived only very rarely and in barely visible traces. Whether this female figure looked exactly as reconstructed in this light projection is hypothetical. However, comparisons with small-scale clay figures of the same period make the reconstruction plausible.
I didn’t expect that…
I enter the next room and am truly speechless. Now I stand in the heart of the exhibition “Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama” and understand the enthusiasm of the many visitors.
The room is a circular rotunda with a diameter of 34 meters and a height of over 30 meters. A steel scaffold stands in the center. A staircase leads up to a viewing platform, from which one has an unobstructed 360-degree panoramic view.
The walls of the room are covered with a 360-degree circular painting designed by the artist Asisi. Background sounds and music are heard through loudspeakers, and a lighting concept simulates the day-night rhythm.
I am initially a bit overwhelmed due to the first impressions and decide to first deal with the creation of the project. There is a small film running on a screen that shows the artist Asisi at work. The National Museums in Berlin have published matching films on their YouTube channel.
The “small version” of the huge panorama and the reconstruction of the North Frieze hangs well lit below the viewing platform.
The North Frieze is only in fragments and I find it remarkable how Asisi has managed to reconstruct such a beautiful complete work from it. I can’t tell which part is a drawing of the original and which part is “new”.
After taking in the first impressions, I head up to the viewing platform to get a better look at the overall work.
The ancient Pergamon as a panorama
I look at the city of Pergamon from the time around 129 AD, as it might have looked. But not only temples, houses or theaters are depicted, but also the population of the city. And this is what makes the panorama simply indescribable in my eyes. There is no point where nothing happens, where you do not discover something and be it only a bird or a light glow of a fire. There are so many details to see that I can only grasp with difficulty at first glance. Surely this was also a reason why I have looked again and again at individual sections of the picture for what felt like an eternity.
One of the dominant sections of the picture is the Pergamon Altar. Here people bring their offerings, the fire flickers and there is a colorful hustle and bustle. On the building, one discovers the frieze that Asisi reconstructed.
On the forecourt, I notice three statues that bear much resemblance to the exhibits seen earlier. Here the artist seems to have incorporated other museum pieces into his work.
In other scenes, I discover people in costumes that I have also seen in other parts of the picture. In a studio, photographs have been taken of people who have been incorporated into the panorama several times. I find just by the “real” people in the picture it looks much more alive and realistic.
For hours I could have stood in the “Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama” on the viewing platform and it would not have become boring. Only after several day-night changes I could finally decide to explore the exhibition further.
“Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama” – so it goes on
The third part of the tour shows again beautiful pieces of the antique collection. I would like to mention here only a small part of them, which particularly impressed me.
I was particularly attracted by the “Little Frieze” or “Telephos Frieze”. It originally decorated the interior walls of the altar courtyard. Today, 47 panels of the frieze are still preserved and a part of them is shown in the exhibition. The representation of the Telephos Frieze in the panorama was a particularly great challenge for Asisi in view of the patchy preservation of the original.
I find the parrot mosaic especially beautiful, which was originally part of a floor mosaic. It dates from 200-150 BC and depicts an Alexander’s parakeet. The lifelike bird and the rest of the mosaic is composed of tiny natural stones cut into squares.
Is it worth visiting the “Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama”?
My tip: Plan time and really look at the panorama picture in peace. There is so much to discover that you don’t know where to look first at the beginning.
The exhibits of the Collection of Classical Antiquities of the National Museums in Berlin impressed me very much and made me want to visit the exhibition in the Pergamon Museum.
Am Kupfergraben 2
Tuesday-Sunday: 10-18 h
Discounts are offered.
Buy tickets from Get Your Guide
Weitere Einblicke in die temporäre Ausstellung „Pergamonmuseum. Das Panorama“
The visit to the exhibition “Pergamon Museum. The Panorama” was part of a cooperation with the National Museums in Berlin.