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Berlin Opens Museums for Free and the Crowds Come Back

With more than half of Germany fully vaccinated, visitors are returning to Berlin’s museums. Waiving admission fees on Sundays is helping, too. 

Visitors queue to enter the Berlin’s Altes Museum on the second Museum Sunday on Aug. 1.

Visitors queue to enter the Berlin’s Altes Museum on the second Museum Sunday on Aug. 1.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Home to Berlin’s most famous museums and typically thronged with visitors, the German capital’s Museum Island has been eerily deserted during the pandemic. Now thanks to a new city program to offer free admission on Sundays, the crowds are returning — masked, vaccinated and socially distant.

Museum Sunday began last month, attracting more than 20,000 visitors with open doors to 67 Berlin museums. At the second Museum Sunday on Aug. 1, even more came. Participating museums welcomed as many as 10 times more people than on a normal Sunday during the pandemic, according to Malte Bündgen from Bureau N, a consultant for the initiative, which is backed by the Berlin Museums Association, the city and the federal government as part of an attempt to revive tourism.