SPK mourns Adriaan von Müller

News from 12/01/2021

The long-time director of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin passed away on November 28 at the age of 93.

Porträt eines Mannes
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

In the Cold War era, Adriaan von Müller, who was appointed director of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Museum of Prehistory and Early History) in 1967, tirelessly established contacts with colleagues in Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1967, von Müller opened the exhibition Greater Moravia. A Sunken Slav Kingdom. In the difficult political climate of the time, this was a masterful achievement. It was followed by several exhibitions with institutions in Poland, which drew attention to the museum far beyond West Berlin.

As the museum's 'second pillar,' von Müller purposefully strengthened the relationship between the museum and local archaeology. As the head of archaeology for the State of Berlin, he himself conducted important excavations. In this context, he remained aware of the need to involve the general public: he presented his excavations on television, gave interviews, and wrote books on archaeology in Berlin that are still widely read today. He also strongly promoted the museum’s educational work, which was considered exemplary far beyond Berlin.

Adriaan von Müller will also be remembered by the people of Berlin as the founder and initiator of the museum village in Düppel, which he pushed through with a combination of innate persuasiveness and tenacity. It set new standards in experimental archaeology and still flourishes today.

The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte owed its success largely to von Müller, who developed concepts that made the best of its special situation in West Berlin. This period of world history ended almost simultaneously with his tenure as director, in the spring of 1990.

“We will remember Adriaan von Müller with gratitude as a clever scientist, a gifted communicator, and a cheerful, open-hearted colleague. We offer our sincere condolences to his family." said SPK President Hermann Parzinger.

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