The ‘Basilica’ in the Bode-Museum: a Central (and Contradictory) Space

  • Neville Rowley (Autor/in)


At the heart of the Bode-Museum in Berlin, opened in 1904 under the name Kaiser- Friedrich-Museum, is a monumental evocation of a church interior in the Florentine 15th-century Renaissance style. The ‘Basilica’, as the space is named, has always been seen as symbolical; yet, when one studies the successive dispositions of the works in the museum over a century, one senses that the Basilica has often been felt as a curatorial problem: should the major altarpieces of the collection be displayed in the lateral chapels of the Basilica, in keeping with their original religious destination, or be hanged on the walls of the other, “secular” galleries of the museum? Addressing this question will suggest that the very center of a museum can also be a gigantic void.