After extensive restoration work undertaken in cooperation with the Max Freiherr von Oppenheim Foundation, the reassembled collection of Max von Oppenheim was unveiled at a press conference in the National Museums
' work rooms in Berlin Friedrichshagen. The unveiling coincided with both the 150th anniversary of Max von Oppenheim's birth and the completion of the restoration work on the monumental sculptures from Tell Halaf (Syria) that were destroyed in the war. In addition, a foretaste is on offer of the future exhibition, organised by the Museum of the Ancient Near East in the Pergamonmuseum, due to open in January 2011, entitled 'Die geretteten Götter aus dem Palast vom Tell Halaf', or 'The Salvaged Gods from the Palace of Tell Halaf'.
The largest restoration project in recent decades was officially completed in Berlin Friedrichshagen in time for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Max Freiherr von Oppenheim, excavator and museum founder. It took nine years of intense work for scholars from the Museum of the Ancient Near East and a team of restorers to reconstruct piece by piece the shattered remains of over 30 sculptures and relief panels in the work rooms of the National Museums in Berlin. An incendiary bomb destroyed the Tell Halaf Museum in the Second World War and with it, its 3000 year old collection.
'It would of course be truly wonderful if the smashed fragments of the stone images could somehow be gathered together and brought to the National Museums and reassembled at a later date.' As Max Freiherr von Oppenheim expressed this wish in 1944 in a letter to the then director of the Museum of the Ancient Near East, Walter Andrae, the Tell Halaf Museum in the Berlin borough of Charlottenburg that he had founded fourteen years earlier lay in ruins.
In January 2011 the Tell Halaf Collection will finally be open to a wider public again after some 68 years in an exhibition to be held by the Museum of the Ancient Near East in the Pergamonmuseum on the Museum Island Berlin. The restored sculptures will go on display from 28 January to 14 August 2011 in the North Wing of the Pergamonmuseum, together with material detailing their exciting history. A specially designed lighting concept will help present the monumental sculptures and relief panels in their original glory - without covering up their scars and wounds. Personal objects that once belonged to Max von Oppenheim together with film footage and photographs will bear homage to the excavator and his unique museum. Alongside the now completed restoration project, the excavations that recommenced at Tell Halaf in 2006 will also be presented to the public in the exhibition.
The reassembled monuments from the Aramaean royal palace are arranged to form the new entrance to the Museum of the Ancient Near East in the Pergamonmuseum, as devised by the Cologne-based architect O. M. Ungers. The move will see a second wish of Max von Oppenheim come true: the permanent presentation of his finds on the Museum Island Berlin.