I have given this museum a 3 star rating because it is such a mixture. It really comprises three different parts - The Bunker Tour (which with a few amendments could be a 5 star rated visit), the Story of Berlin (the upstairs part, which barely rates a 2 star) and the downstairs Rise of the Nazis and Berlin in the Cold War (which is quite good and I would give a 3-4 star to).
What is good about the Bunker tour? The Cold War Bunker is under the shopping centre and you go in groups of up to 20. You are let in through the two double doors into the atmospherically lit area, full of bunks, which would have held the first 3,500 locals to make it down the stairs in the event of a nuclear warning. It is dark and creepy and you get a pretty good idea of what it might have been like to live in there for the 14 days before you had to go back above ground - when the food would have run out. I would have liked time to watch the videos that they had running (which we walked straight past) and a few minutes to absorb more of the atmosphere.
The upstairs Story of Berlin was confused. It felt as though someone had thought that it was a subject which nobody had covered (and they still haven't) which they could get money to make a museum about. The impression was that they had asked a group of university undergraduates to produce 500 words each of a range of subjects , which were then sent to the designers without any editorial input. Some bits referred to other bits which you had not got to yet - or were missing altogether - some bits were printed in small black lettering on clear glass against an unlit pictorial background, and impossible to read - the chronology was non existent and jumped about all over the place. There are some lovely models of Berlin landmarks (in chronological order!) and some nice lead soldiers. We spent far too much time trying to make sense of it all. Luckily the cinema was a good place for a rest in a comfortable seat before tackling the remainder.
The downstairs part was much better organised - starting with a timeline of the 1930s and with exhibits about the division of Berlin. Unfortunately having wasted so much time upstairs we did not get a chance to give it the time it deserved.
Conclusion - Go for the Bunker tour - if you miss one (they do them in German and English, with the next time displayed) and have to wait, do the downstairs part first - if you are really unlucky with your timing then continue your wait with a browse round upstairs.
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