Best Berlin museums highlighted during Long Night of Museums Berlin

by Sep 7, 2022Berlin Region

Start Of Berlin Long Night At The Museums

Imagine staying up all night going in and out of any number of Berlin museums. When the annual Long Night of Museums in Berlin rolled around, we joined in the fun — wandering through museums until 2 a.m. It is a great way to explore some of the best Berlin museums.


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For those who have wondered what it would be like in a museum late at night, then try the original Long Night of Museums in Berlin. Twice now, we’ve enjoyed wandering museum exhibits until 2 a.m. in Berlin – once in 2017 and again in 2022. It is a great way to explore and sample a selection of some of the best Berlin museums, all for one moderate price. Go ahead, gorge on museums until your feet fall off and your eyes fall shut.

There is something truly fun about wandering the Berlin streets and museum floors with thousands of other museum lovers until the early morning hours at Long Night of Museums in Berlin (“Lange Nacht der Museen”).

Organizers say Berlin is where the popular global trend of annual museum days and nights started. With dozens of the best Berlin museums from big to small taking part, we wouldn’t be surprised. In 2017, for the 20th–annual event in Berlin, there were some 70 participating museums and 800 special events flung far and wide around the city. During our second time touring museums at night in 2022 (after a two-year hiatus due to COVID), there were again 70 museums open and many special workshops, concerts and performances.

The Futurium At Long Night Of The Museums In Berlin

Some museums have long lines — some ridiculously long — so be sure to plan and choose wisely. We got to the Futurium early in the evening and the line, as you can see here, is not long. Within an hour after we arrived, the line was around the red sign and stretched down the street.

The concept is simple: You buy one ticket and get access to as many museums and as much fun as you can binge on from about 6 p.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Although the selection varies a bit year to year, about six dozen of about 170 Berlin museums will fling open their doors for the long night, and the list includes the most traditional and Berlin “musts” to the truly exotic and tiny boutique museums. What a great way to taste a number of museums as a traveler in a city, too, so don’t forget to look for those events when traveling: More than 100 cities have offered Museum Nights or Days, including Amsterdam and Paris.

HITT Tip: Pick up the brochure and map prior to the evening in Berlin — or anywhere — and study it a bit to plot your route and plan what you want to do. Or download it online and get an idea beforehand where you may want to head. With so many to see, organization is a must!

Each year, Long Night of Museums in Berlin kicks off in the sprawling park in front of the Cathedral of Berlin (“Berliner Dom”) at the so-called “Lustgarten”) with a party atmosphere – food trucks, music, entertainers, and people, people, people of all nationalities and ages. Rain or shine, everyone is smiling, laughing, eager to get the museum party started.

Berlin-Museum-Long-Night-Lustgarten-Party

The Berlin museum party headquarters in front of the Berlin Cathedral always has a festive atmosphere, as it was here in 2017.

Shuttles and transportation options link the museums

With one ticket, you can use special shuttle routes connecting many of the Berlin museums citywide, enjoy special entertainment at some sites, and get access to additional transportation options. In 2017, in Berlin, free public transport on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn was offered as a part of the ticket. In 2022, a 10 Euro voucher was offered at “Jelbi” pop-ups that could be exchanged for renting scooters, bikes, or taking a ride in a taxi. Or just buy a day pass for public transit.

Getting lost is hard, but it isn’t impossible (OK, so after midnight during our first time experiencing a Long Night of Museums we walked the wrong way once but, hey, it was late, and we were tired). There are staff at many stops as well as in several key areas handing out information and additional maps and brochures describing what you can do and where to go. Even the digital public transit signage at bus stops includes the Long Night of Museums shuttles, so you know exactly when the next bus is.

Berlin-Long-Night-of-Museums-shuttle

Signage for Long Night of Museum shuttles appears right on regular bus signs.

HITT Tip: To avoid our late-night wrong-way mistake, make sure you have a street map or pull up an online map so you go the right way from the start after disembarking a shuttle, especially if in an unfamiliar city.

It is impossible in fact to see and do it all (although there are those who certainly try). The first year we participated, in 2017, we managed six Berlin museums plus spent time enjoying all the events and activities at both Potsdamer Platz (“Potsdam Square”) and the Kulturforum. In 2022, we managed only four Berlin museums since the lines at many were soooooo long we’d have spent much of our night just standing and waiting (At one museum we were told it would take us at least two hours just to get in from where we were standing). Sadly, we just skipped those.

Kultur-Forum-Berlin-Long-NIght-of-Museums

Playing musical light cubes at the Kulturforum in Berlin in 2017.

The Long Night of Museums is not the time to go to just one or two museums and dutifully read through all the exhibits. Instead, it is a great time to explore many, including smaller or off-the-beaten-path museums. Many state museums are normally free in Berlin, as are most sights that relate to the Berlin Wall and divided Berlin or the Holocaust and WWII Resistance, so take the opportunity to get into ones that normally have a fee. In any city with a Museum Day or Night, indulge in the chance to taste-test a few you may want to go back to and spend more time, or pop into ones you simply normally would not pay for.

While there are a consistent number of larger museums that participate in the Long Night of the Museums each year, for example on Berlin’s Museum Island, the list of museums open for a visit varies from year-to-year. There are so many amazing museums in Berlin that it is just not possible to say which are “the best” Berlin museums. With that in mind, what follows are a selection of museums we recommend that usually participate in a Long Night of the Museums event and are worth a visit whenever you do get to Berlin:

  • German Spy Museum. Similar in many ways to the original International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., the German Spy Museum in Berlin is also modern, interactive, and very popular. Opened in 2015, it explains the development of spies, the history of spying and all the various ways they go about their work, including exhibits of tools of the trade and some hands-on demos. It showcases a strong emphasis on espionage in the formerly divided city.

Berlin-Spy-Museum-Best-Berlin-Museums

  • German Cinematic Museum for Film and Television. Located next to a movie theater, the museum demands you spend a lot of time in dark rooms watching clips, TV shows and movies. Great for true buffs and filled with archives where historians can do research.
  • Music Instruments Museum. Quite staid and proper but with a wide array of antique instruments as well as a large area about the development of today’s synthesizers and electronic music. Concerts too. Superb stop for music enthusiasts.

Music-instruments-Museum-Berlin

  • Wall Museum. Right near famous Checkpoint Charlie in tourist central, the so-called Wall Museum (“Mauer Museum”) used to be a quaint old museum at Checkpoint Charlie. Today it is a maze of rooms jammed with posters and old signage and some memorabilia from the Berlin Wall. Shows escapes and talks about tunnels and those who tried and failed. Interesting, of course, but not a modern or very well-done museum compared to most we have visited. Be ready to spend time in stuff-filled rooms reading huge placards with surprisingly poor English translations. Nevertheless, pretty fascinating for any traveler interested in the former divided city’s history.

Berlin-best-wall-mauer-museum

  • Humboldt Forum. The Humboldt Forum is a partial reconstruction of the former Berlin Palace, an 18th-century neoclassical building that once housed Prussian kings and other German royalty. Inside it houses several exhibitions, including a history of Berlin and of the building itself. It has exhibits that pull back the curtain on links between democracy and climate change as well as the history of the illicit ivory trade. And not to be missed is the view from the top of the Humboldt Forum at the restaurant and open-air terrace. Also worthy of a visit is the inner courtyard called Schlüterhof, also with a café and occasional special events.

Long-Night-of-Museums-Humboldt-Forum

  • DDR Museum. Wonderful museum with numerous interactive displays that discuss the assumptions and stereotypes regarding everyday life in the DDR, a.k.a. former East Germany (GDR). Get behind the wheel and drive in an original Trabant P601 car – the car is very real, but the driving is simulated of course. Take the elevator (real but not really …. It just shakes you about and then you go out a back door) to enter a fully furnished reconstruction of a high-rise tower block flat with hundreds of original objects. There is so much more that time will fly.

Trabi In The DDR Museum

  • Gas Street Lights. Who would have thought that maintaining gas street lamps was a deal? We stopped at a special table on Light Night of the Museums to sign up for a short bus tour in the Charlottenburg area. And we discovered that of the 50,000 or so gas street lights left in the world from the 1800s and 1900s, that about half of those are in Berlin! The non-profit Gaslicht Kultur association offers information and history about these historic lights (five basic types) and also offers regular tours by bus and on foot or bike.
  • Schloss Charlottenburg. Charlottenburg Palace was built as a summer palace for Sophie Charlotte (the first Queen consort to Prussia) in 1699. It was modeled after Versailles in France. The palace, with its elegant suites of rooms, is also ranked as the largest and most attractive former royal palace in Berlin.

Charlottenburg-palace-Berlin-Museum-Long-Night

  • Futurium. Hands down this was one of our favorite best Berlin museums to discover during a Long Night at the Museums event! The interactive displays and way the museum engages with visitors offering a glimpse into the world of tomorrow is top notch. The big question “How do we want to live?” is one that is asked repeatedly in the exhibit and prods you to think a bit. Also great for kids with the interactive lab and workshop. Don’t miss the Skywalk upstairs that in good weather gives you a great view of the government quarter and allows you to walk through a “forest” of solar panels powering the Berlin museum.

Futurium-Museum-Berlin-Long-Night

HITT Tip: Bring a snack and a bottle of water to Long Night of the Museums since you may not want to spend time looking for food or drink while visiting all the great Berlin museums with the clock ticking. Plus, you may be in transit when hunger or thirst strikes. Oh, and do not forget your super comfy walking shoes!


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Visiting the best museums in Berlin doesn’t stop with Long Night

Not to miss of course are many of the other best Berlin Museums, many also a part of Long Night in Berlin, including Urban Nation for street art, the Stasi Archives from East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi Hohenschoenhausen prison (with tours often lead by former prisoners), and the fascinating Stasi Museum telling the story of the former East’s secret police. Many of these former secret Stasi police sights are on a so-called “campus” where their offices used to be.

Time to get packing now for next year’s long night or plot your own visit to all those best Berlin museums. Got caffeine? Whether on an all-nighter or just traveling through Berlin, 170 museums are a lot to get to!

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