Stirling's Muses Part II

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From: Stirling's Inheritance To: Stirling's Legacy Re: Stirling's Muses


seemingly intentional choreographed sequence of architectonics and spatial zones

To enhance to exterior of the building in this most beautiful area of the city, I decided to have an open public hall. Here monuments of contemporary heroes will be erected. . . . The back wall is to be decorated wit frescos bearing some relation to the purpose of the building. Those paintings, seen through the columns, are intended to lend serenity to the building.

There is a stair of 21 steps which leads from the square [Lustgarten] into the hall. On both sides of the staircase there will be equestrian statues, one of the museum's noble founder and one of a noble successor who helped to make possible this construction for the education of the people. The hall is enlarged between the five center columns in order to create space for the installation of a double winged main staircase. In the narrowest passages there are metal gates, which close off the entrance to the interior of the building. The two ascending stairs are constructed in such a way that the view of the square is not obstructed. While ascending, one looks through the columns at the square. One also has a view of the square from the landing on top of the stairs.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Collection of Architectural Designs (Chicago: Exedra Books Incorporated, 1981), pp. 41-42.

The monumental columnar hall, open to the exterior, contains the main staircase behind a screen of dipteral columns. As the Stoa Poikile ("Painted Porch") at Athens seems to have been an important influence on the scheme, it is not surprising that paintings should play a prominent part and mural depicting an idealized history of civilization were placed on the portico's windowless inner walls (destroyed during WW II). This extraordinary loggia with its open staircase has many different functions and "meanings": it reveals the two main stories of the building behind the unifying colossal order, it gives access directly from the exterior to the separate collections on the upper floor, it protects the murals decorating the front elevation while enlarging with the deep upper landing the area to be decorated, it makes the windowless south wall of the Museum transparent in character opening a space into the volume of the building from the Lustgarten, and it offers a shelter from the elements adjacent to a large public place.

Rand Carter, "Karl Frierich Schinkel, "The Last Great Architect"" in Collection of Architectural Designs (Chicago: Exedra Books Incorporated, 1981), p. 30.

For an illustrated rendition of the entry sequence into the Altes Museum, see the current display of the Altes Museum at Quondam.



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