The James-Simon-Galerie, the new entrance building between the Kupfergraben canal and the Neues Museum, marks the architectural conclusion of the Museum Island ensemble in Berlin after 180 years. It forms, together with the Archaeological Promenade, the centrepiece of the master plan developed in 1999, which has since served as the starting point for all further planning on the UNESCO World Heritage site Museum Island. As the new gateway to the Museum Island, the James-Simon-Galerie plays a significant role and is suitable for welcoming large numbers of visitors, housing all the facilities required by the contemporary museum-goer.
A staggering of the building dimensions ensures that the view from the Schlossbrücke into the depths of the Museum Island and of the west façade of the Neues Museum is preserved. The high stone plinth of the building reinforces the bank of the Kupfergraben canal, above which a tall colonnade rises up, expressing a classical piano nobile. Large parts of this principal level will be accessible to the public outside opening hours, further extending the public realm of the Museum Island. Slender columns become a leitmotif, reminiscent of the famous sketch by Friedrich Wilhelm IV for his ‘cultural acropolis’. They continue Stüler’s colonnade that originally ended at Neues Museum, creating the new small colonnaded courtyard between the Neues Museum and the James Simon Galerie.