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Berlin's Pergamon Altar faces 5-year closure

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February 18, 2014 12:49 PM EST | AP

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BERLIN (AP) — Berlin's museums authority says one of the city's best-known cultural treasures, the 2nd-century B.C. Pergamon Altar, will be shut to visitors for up to five years from September for restoration work on the building that houses it.

The altar, decorated with a marble frieze, was built between 197 and 156 B.C. in the present-day Turkish town of Bergama. It's the centerpiece of Berlin's Pergamon Museum.

The museum is being restored as part of a plan to overhaul the neoclassical Museum Island complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The authority that runs Berlin's public museums said Tuesday the central hall that contains the altar will close Sept. 29 and likely won't reopen until 2019, though it plans to set up a temporary exhibition nearby with original material from the altar.