Saturday, January 08, 2011

Berlin Review: Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum has some of the world's greatest antiquities, the question of who actually owns them hotly-disputed (so beware--they may not always be handy in Berlin). We went there on a pilgrimage for our Arabic-speaking archaeologist daughter. Below are instructions for visiting.

1. Go earlier than we did. It is not true that just because it is 14 degrees below freezing nobody will be crazy enough to stand in a line outside. Approximately 200 people will be crazy enough to wait in line with you outside for an hour. Later you will discover that you could have bought your ticket (a joint ticket to Pergamon and the Neues Museum) at any of the other museums in the complex. Where nobody was waiting in line.

2. Buy a copy of Ich und Mein Pergamonmuseum the museum-produced coloring book in the bookstore (6 Euros) with line drawings of some of the highlights of the collection.

Your children will possibly enjoy coloring it in even more than they enjoyed seeing the real object. If your kids are fascinated by Greek gods and godesses, buy the coloring book about the gods and godesses instead. Looking for the book and buying it also gets you out of the cold while waiting in line (see #1 above and here).

3. Use the audio headset they give you with your ticket. The highlights tour is really short, and if you're seven years old, operating its controls gives you a sense of power.

4. If you go to Neues Museum to see the bust of Nefertiti (worth it!), you will probably enjoy the display of Egyptian statues, but unless you have unnaturally tall children, they will have a very odd perspective on them--they'll see the bottoms of the statue's chins very well--and will probably not enjoy them nearly as much as you do. Instead, plop them on a bench and give them a sketch pad to draw what they see while you enjoy the statues. Either that or lift them up in front of every single statue so they can see it.
What Isaac sketched while I admired the Egyptian statues he was too short to see.

5. Remember that this is a huge and overwhelming museum. Don't feel bad if everyone is exhausted and you've barely seen anything in the collection. Leave while people still have a chance to have happy memories.

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