Berlin’s Pergamon Museum Closes for Major Renovations, Will Fully Reopen in 14 Years

The Pergamon Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island will completely close for three and half years for a long-term renovation project starting this October. Renovations are already underway in the northern and central part of the museum, however its southern wing will not reopen until 2037.

According to the German outlet Deutsche Welle, a portion of the early 20th century building is in “poor structural condition,” that has rendered it unfit for visitors and exhibitions. The restoration efforts will address structural damage caused by factors including moisture and outdated technical systems.

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The extensive repairs are expected to cost an estimated €1.5 million ($1.6 million). Construction complications have delayed the ongoing renovations since 2016, when the estimated cost was disclosed to be €477 million ($526 million). The figure was almost double the initial estimate of €261 million ($288 million).

The museum is best known as the site of the Pergamon Altar, a Greek architectural relic, elements from which were excavated in the late 19th century in modern-day Turkey and Iraq. The altar will be placed on public view again in 2017.

The prolonged closure raises questions about the status of repatriation conversations involving the altar and other high-profile antiquities in the museum’s collection. Germany has not detailed plans to make official returns of the Pergamon’s antiquities.

In January, a German government official publicly voiced support for returning the storied Greek altar to its countries of origin. Turkey, which has been active in seeking a legal title to its displaced cultural property, has long called for the altar’s return. Germany acquired it under a 1879 agreement with the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Greece at the time.

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