Cast Collection of Ancient Sculptures
The collection of casts currently includes over 1,400 casts of Greek and Roman sculptures, about 800 of which are on display in approximately 800 m² of exhibition space. It continues the tradition of the famous collection of casts founded in 1695, which was last accommodated at Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität, with about 2,500 casts in 2,500 m² of space, and was largely destroyed during World War II.
The redevelopment of the collection in 1988, in what had formerly been a tract of garages for the Autobahnpolizei (highway police), right near the Egyptian Museum, was possible only through cooperation between the Institute of Classical Archaeology of Freie Universität, the Staatliche Museen der Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, and the Berlin Senate Administration. The renovation by the architects R. Schüler and U. Schüler-Witte has created an appealing whole surrounding a shared courtyard.
Today, the collection is not only used for teaching and study activities by universities and other higher education institutions in Berlin, but also aims to reach a broad spectrum of interested viewers with its presentations and to meet the needs of elementary and secondary school students and other groups. Due to its ongoing growth, the collection is able to offer a more complete overview of history and the various forms taken by ancient sculpture with every passing year. The works in the collection span from the Cycladic culture of the 3rd millennium BC to Minoan and Mycenaean art, the Geometric period of the 8th to 7th centuries BC and the Archaic period of the 7th to 6th centuries BC and beyond, from the sculpture of the Classical and Hellenistic periods to that of the Roman and Byzantine Empires until about 500 AD.
The collection aims to stimulate viewer encounters with antiquity in order to bring about a better understanding of the circumstances and characteristics that define it. To this end, it presents selected examples of the art of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the other cultures ringing the Mediterranean, along with pieces showing the perception of antiquity in the modern day. Thanks to the commitment and involvement of the association that funds the collection and its many new acquisitions, the space currently available is growing tight, so only very few sculptures can be shown, especially in these areas of the collection. Despite the cramped quarters, the space frequently hosts special archaeological exhibits, alongside ongoing exhibitions by contemporary artists whose works are connected in some degree with antiquity or with the materials and techniques used to create casts.
The collection of casts offers 800 m² of exhibition space, making it an ideal venue for events of all kinds. A wall of spacious windows and various doors open onto one of the loveliest interior courtyards in Berlin, with the stables and carriage house of Friedrich August Stüler (1851–59; currently the Egyptian Museum). The interior courtyard, which is lit at night (approx. 25 x 25 m) is not accessible from the street, but can be used for events. Unlike many other museums, the exhibition space serves as a venue for seated dinners (up to 150 people) and standing receptions (up to 400 people) amid the large-scale statues. The festive and slightly surreal overall effect makes these events an unforgettable experience for attendees. Ceiling speakers, ample restroom facilities, and parking are available – the latter either in front of Schloß Charlottenburg (100 m) or, in smaller numbers, right in front of the museum.