CLIQ protects James Simon Gallery

Culture for everyone – the Museum Island in Berlin was established almost 200 years ago with this basic idea in mind. Instead of keeping princely collections and treasure chambers out of sight, the public was to be given access to cultural assets – just in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Today, the five museums on the island belong to the UNESCO World Heritage and attract visitors in droves. In order to keep the growing audience better organised in the future, a new entrance building has now been established: the James Simon Gallery. It is the logistical and visual link between the museums. And it is also linked to the existing buildings in terms of security technology – integrated into a VERSO® CLIQ master key system from ASSA ABLOY that extends throughout all of the buildings. This provides a superlative degree of security, flexible administration and historic preservation at the same time.

By 13 July 2019, the time had finally come: After 17 years of building work, the James Simon Gallery was handed over to visitors. Planned by British architect David Chipperfield, the building is part of an ensemble of museums under historical conservation in the historical centre of Berlin. The origins of the compound date back to 1810. At that time, Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III decided to establish a public art collection in Berlin. It was to be built on Spree Island, which was originally used as an industrial zone. What followed in the years between 1823 and 1930 was a total of five exhibition buildings: The Old Museum, the New Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum – all designed by renowned architects such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Friedrich August Stüler, Ernst Eberhard von Ihne and Alfred Messel. The museum ensemble has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1999. In the same year, a master plan was made which calls for the renovation of the existing buildings in observation of historic conservation regulations. It also defines restructuring and new buildings, which should make the museums easier to take in as a single unit. The day before, 12 July, the gallery was officially opened by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Reorganisation of Museum Island

The master plan for Museum Island includes redesigning the open spaces on the island, expanding the contents of the museums by adding the Humboldt Forum in the centre of the island and creating a new Archaeological Centre. In addition, an Archaeological Promenade which connects the base levels of four of the five museums is to be successively established. Another part of the plan: The construction of an overarching entrance building: the James Simon Gallery. It is named after James Simon, a Jewish patron of the arts who bequeathed the world-famous bust of Nefertiti (among other things) to the Berlin museums at the beginning of the 20th century. The James Simon Gallery will fulfil three main tasks: First, it serves as a point of contact for visitors of the Museum Island UNESCO World Heritage Site. Secondly, it serves as a dividing point because it is connected above ground to the southern wing of the Pergamon Museum and below ground to the other museums by way of the Archaeological Promenade. Thirdly, the Gallery will provide space for temporary exhibitions and presentations, thus making for a dynamic location for Museum Island and all of Berlin.

History and present in harmony

The narrow stretch of land along the Copper Moat posed many challenges: for one thing, the muddy soil necessitated extensive foundation works. For another thing, the historical conservation of Museum Island required a light touch in terms of design. British Architect David Chipperfield harmoniously combined old and new already while renovating the New Museum. With the new James Simon Gallery as well, he incorporates historical elements of the museum structures under historic conservation, such as the grand outdoor staircase and the colonnades, while simultaneously transferring them to the present: For instance, Chipperfield designed the columns of the new construction – up to nine metres tall – to be much slenderer than the existing examples. This way, they visually cover the height of the Gallery. The new building has three storeys in total and covers 4,600 square metres, 700 of which serve for temporary exhibitions. The auditorium provides 300 seats. A ticket and information area, as well as cloakrooms, a shop and a café complete the room arrangement. Chipperfield underscores the tranquil impression of the James Simon Gallery with an unobtrusive material canon consisting of exposed concrete walls, shell limestone floors, glass, various types of wood, marble and copper plates – much like he already did in the New Museum, which was reopened in 2009.

Concealed protection

In addition to high-grade materials and a harmonious room arrangement, the inconspicuous integration of the necessary technical elements contribute to a coherent overall architectural impression. In this context, the master key system constitutes one of the most important security functions, for the James Simon Gallery will be a heavily frequented public institution. The rooms will have to be accessible to many employees and external persons at different times, while sensitive areas have to be protected simultaneously. In order to guarantee security and provide uncomplicated access authorisation management, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (which owns the Gallery) opted for the easily retrofitted mechatronic VERSO® CLIQ locking system. It integrates sophisticated microelectronics with intelligent data encryption into a premium mechanical lock cylinder system.

Security can be so easy

The Foundation had already had ASSA ABLOY’s IKON system installed in several buildings of the Berlin State Museums and consolidated to form a cohesive locking system spanning multiple buildings. The decision to do so had already been made years ago. Many factors were decisive for the implementation with VERSO® CLIQ. Stefan Kiowski of Kiowski Sicherheitstechnik in Berlin was commissioned with implementing the master key system for the Berlin State Museums from the very outset. He explains: “The requirements were clear: The master key system was to be limitlessly expandable and compatible with historical conservation regulations. VERSO® CLIQ enables compliance with both of these aspects. Since the system can be installed wirelessly and the electronic cylinders also correspond to the shape of the old profile cylinders, none of the doors had to be changed in appearance.” Alexander Kroll, CLIQ® Product Manager at ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH, adds: “The mechatronic system is also a highly cost-effective solution. For one thing, it does not require any structural alterations, and for another, it keeps operating expenses down.” For instance, the keys are equipped with a commercially-available lithium battery. These hold up for about 30,000 locking operations, making for a service life of roughly three years. The user can change the battery easily and independently without any tools. If a key is lost, the security of the system is maintained simply by deprogramming the access authorisation, without the locking cylinder having to be replaced.

Seamless service for seamless security 

The master key system, which encompasses multiple buildings of the Berlin State Museums, currently has around 1,700 cylinders with roughly 1,950 keys. More than 1,100 of these locking cylinders were installed on Museum Island – 400 in the new James Simon Gallery alone. And the system will continue to grow: firstly through further renovation and expansion measures in existing museum structures of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and secondly whenever a severe key loss that jeopardises the necessary security standard takes place in an existing mechanical system. Furthermore, Stefan Kiowski knows that the Berlin State Museums are highly satisfied with their cooperation with ASSA ABLOY: “The customer feels very well-served and has confirmed this time and time again.” Kiowski Sicherheitstechnik GmbH is part of ASSA ABLOY’s PARTNERSHIP programme. The company uses this programme to increase its specialist partners’ competence in consulting, installation and service, thus offering a great added value for the end customer.

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