Russians and Germans
1000 Years of Russian and German Art, History and Culture on show in Berlin
Looking at a map of the Baltic Sea it immediately becomes apparent that the coastline must have invited seafarers from time immemorial to engage in lively trade from the root of Schleswig, along the coast of present day Germany, through the Baltic States and all the way up to Lake Ladoga and further down the rivers reaching into the heart of Central and eastern Europe.
Indeed this was the case as witnessed by the history of the last 1000 years, starting with the Vikings, moving on to the Hanseatic League and further to the more formalised connections in Early Modern Europe formed through dynastic relations. Finally of course the wars of the 19th and 20th century came to establish even more intimate relations between the different nations – Germanic or Slavic.
This story is the centrepiece of a new huge exhibition at Neues Museum in Berlin this winter. In the exhibition the story is told of the ties between Germany and Russia, starting with the period of initial contact and intense trade links in the Middle Ages, moving on to the age of lively, dynamic interaction in the 18th and 19th century and through to the fundamental breaks and successful fresh starts in the 20th century.
The exhibition is especially interesting to medievalists, at the focus deliberately has been shifted from the later periods in order to show the long and intricate connections, which have marked the relations between the two nations.
The first room thus showcases finds from Novgorod, but also significant traces of the Russian trade from the Hanseatic cities. The more than four meter long woodcarving from the Nicolai Church in Stralsund is exhibited as a sign of this. Next room tells the story of Moscow before
the visitor moves on to St. Petersburg and the history of the 19th and 20th century. Finally focus is placed on the sore question of the app. 1mill artefacts, stolen by the Russians after the end of WW2 and for a large part hidden in secret Russian storerooms in the backyards of their huge museums.
The magnificent exhibits, many of which have never been shown before, have been taken from major museums and archives in both countries and joined by international loans. More than 600 artefacts are shown from amongst other institutions the Kreml, The Eremitage in St. Petersburg and the National Museum in Moscow.
The exhibition has been developed in unison by key cultural bodies from both Russia and Germany. From Russia, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the State Historical Museum in Moscow has been active, while the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has been the official German partner in the project. M
The project is supported by the governments of both countries and promoted by the Petersburger Dialog, a discussion forum set up to foster cultural ties between the two countries and sponsored by E.ON. It is part of a yearlong celebration of the traditional relations between the two nations.
Russians & Germans.1000 Years of Art, History and Culture
Bodestrasse 1 -3
Russen und Deutsche. 1000 Jahre Kunst, Geschichte und Kultur I -II
Matthias Wemhof und Alexander Lewkyn (Ed)
Michael Imhof Verlag 2012.