War-scarred Berlin museum shows off 10-year makeover

Thu Mar 5, 2009 12:22pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin's restored neoclassical Neues Museum opened for a long weekend Thursday to show off its $250 million, 10-year facelift following decades of neglect under communism and bomb damage from World War Two.

The 20,500 square meters (22,400 square yard) of exhibition space has been reworked, with modern design replacing parts of the interior, which will again house antiquities including a bust of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.

Modernist British architect David Chipperfield said he had wanted to keep as much of the old interior as possible.

"You can't build something again. We wanted to keep what was still there and survived all these years and hold on to the original material," he told Reuters Television.

The last of the renown buildings to reopen on the Museum Island in what was the East German part of the city, many consider the museum one of Germany's architectural masterpieces.

Built by Prussian architect Friedrich Stueler in 1843, the building gained UNESCO World Heritage site status in 2000 and opens for its first exhibition on October 16.

(Reporting by Franziska Scheven; Editing by Louise Ireland)

<p>A women plays an accordion in front of the 'Neues Museum' (New Museum) building on Museum Island in Berlin March 5, 2009. The reconstructed 'Neues Museum' building by British architect David Chipperfield on Berlin's Museum Island, will be open to the public in October 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>