Berlin is a city rich in museums. Some, like the Dahlem Painting Gallery with its 26 Rembrandts or the Egyptian Museum, with its famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, are well known. Most of these impressive prewar collections are on view in East Berlin's large museums. But in West Berlin there are dozens of other, smaller collections, peculiar to Berlin itself, that instruct and offer insight into the city at the same time. Among them:

The Haus am Checkpoint Charlie (Friedrichstrasse 44, 1000 Berlin 61, Kreuzberg), located at the border crossing where American and Soviet tanks stared each other down in 1961, may be Berlin's most compelling museum. Exhibits chronicle the history of the Wall, its construction and fortification, and document numerous daring escape attempts, in a stirring tribute to the human spirit. Open daily. The Berlin Museum (Lindenstrasse 14, Kreuzberg), housed in the old Berlin Supreme Court building, illustrates the history and culture of Berlin from the mid-17th century to the present. Arts and crafts, toys, scale models of the city and rooms decorated in period furnishings are on display, along with works by the painter Heinrich Zille, whose sketches and photos chronicle Berlin life at the turn of the century. The museum also mounts special exhibits, such as one last year on homosexuality in Berlin. On your way out you can literally drink in the city's history: The museum's public bar, or bierstube, serves a variety of Berlin Spezialitaeten, including weissbier, the city's popular "white beer." Open Tuesdays through Sundays. The Bauhaus Archives (Klingelhoeferstrasse 14, 1000 Berlin 30, Tiergarten), located in a building designed by the school's founder, Walter Gropius, traces the artistic history of the Bauhaus architectural movement. Visitors familiar only with Bauhaus architecture typified by the glass and steel buildings of Mies van der Rohe will be surprised by the breadth of the school's achievement. On permanent display are paintings, graphic works, metalwork, furniture, sculpture and textiles, which seem far removed from the familiar, rectilinear architectural renderings -- although those are here, too. Closed Tuesdays. The Berlin Cinema Museum (Grossbeerenstrasse 57, 1000 Berlin 61, Kreuzberg) preserves the history of film in Germany. It is a rich legacy: In 1895 the first movie ever shown in Europe was screened in Berlin, and throughout the 1920s the city was the hub of the German film industry and produced such classics as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "The Blue Angel." The museum boasts a collection of rare cameras and projectors, posters, stills and programs. The main attractions, though, are the movies themselves: There are regular screenings of rare dramas, comedies, documentaries and trailers. Open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Ploetzensee Memorial (Huttig-Pfad, Charlottenburg-Nord) isn't really a museum; its only exhibit is a cold, dimly lit room, bare except for eight metal hooks mounted to the ceiling. Within these four stone walls some 1,800 people were executed by the Nazis. Today the execution chamber stands in mute remembrance of every victim of Nazi terror. Open daily. The Spandau Citadel (Strasse Am Juliusturm, 1000 Berlin 20, Spandau), in West Berlin's lake district near the old city of Spandau, figured in most of Germany's wars during the last 400 years. The moated fortress of red brick was completed in 1594 (though the Julius Tower inside is part of a structure that is at least 400 years older), and the Citadel remains virtually unchanged. Frederick the Great's court took refuge from the Austrians here during the Seven Years' War; after the Franco-Prussian War Bismarck hid the Reich War Treasury in the tower, where it remained through World War I; the ruins of a Nazi Gas Warfare Lab are still tucked away in one corner. Today visitors can walk along the Italianate bastions, view Jewish gravestones from the 1200s and climb the Juliusturm to take in a view that encompasses West Berlin, Potsdam and the Distant Mueggelsberge in East Berlin. Closed Mondays. Duppel Museum Village (Clauertstrasse 11, 1000 Berlin 37, Zehlendorf) is a reconstruction of a medieval German village, built on the site of an archeological dig. A corp of volunteers has built farmhouses on the original, 13th-century foundations (discovered during World War II when a 14-year-old boy found pottery shards in a bomb crater), using only traditional tools and materials -- mud, wood and reed thatch. They raise the same crops and livestock that sustained the original German and Slavic settlers, practice the old handicrafts, bake bread in earthen ovens and even brew their own mead. Open Sundays only, May through October. Museum hours and admission fees vary, and are subject to change, so check ahead before visiting. For more information, contact the Tourist Information Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, 747 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 308-3300. The guide "Berlin for Young People" lists dozens of museums and is available free from Informationzentrum Berlin, Hardenbergstrasse 20, 1000 Berlin 12. Museums and special exhibitions are also listed in the monthly periodical Berlin Program. A sample copy can be obtained free of charge from the Berlin Travel Office, Europa Center, 1000 Berlin 30.