This section contains an overview of the most relevant exhibitions. Each item is connected to the organizing museum.

Emperorship from Antiquity

Otto the Great (912-973), bust on seal, Landeshauptarchiv Magdeburg. Photo: Kulturhistorisches Museum Magdeburg

This year, 2012, marks the 1100th birthday of Otto the Great (emperor from 962-971) and the 1050th anniversary of this coronation as emperor at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 962. On this occasion the kulturhistorisches Museum in Magdeburg is giving the European history of the idea of emperorship from the first European emperor Augustus (emperor from 27 BC-14 AD) and other Roman emperors, through the dynasty of the Ottonian emperors (who ruled from 962-1024). The exhibition shows how Augustus cunningly availed of the Roman Republic principles around the turn of the century top create new forms of legitimacy for his rule. When the last Roman emperor was deposed in 476, the title of emperor initially remained confined to the Eastern Roman Empire, which evolved into the Byzantine Empire and emperors. Western Roman Emperorship was revived in 800, when Charlemagne was crowned emperor by the pope in Rome in 800. The milieu of Roman, Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian emperors produced splendid works of art. The exhibition is bringing these riches from one thousand years together as well.

Modern Capitalism

The Ambassdaor of the Dutch Republic Cornelis van der Mijle and the Doge of Venice, 1609. Zeeuws Archief Middelburg, Photo: Landesmuseum

The exhibition in the Landesmuseum tells the story of the origins of our contemporary economic system, capitalism, in the historic maritime republic of Venice and during the “Golden Age” of Amsterdam – Venice from the 13th century and Amsterdam in the 17th century. Both cities played a key role in the economic and social development of the West. Merchants and traders invented new forms of finance, credit and commerce which we still use today. Both cities looked out towards the sea, took risks, built ships, pursued trade overseas, suffered losses, but also made large profits. With growing affluence and the birth of a pre-modern civil society, for example in Amsterdam, culture and splendour became more attractive than risky overseas trade. This marked the start of investment in culture and luxury – and also the end of the “Golden Age” of both cities. Though capitalism is as old as mankind, modern capitalism has its roots in late medieval and early modern history.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the burning of Moscow

Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). Photo: Wikipedia

The exhibition is dedicated to Schinkel’s oeuvre regarding the history of architecture and building aesthetics, as well as the entire Schinkel art universe, newly appraised and translated into descriptive arrangements of art works with special attention given to the transformation achievements of the early historism period. According to Schinkel, “History and Poetry” exceed pure function and material value and as a consequence elevate a piece of work to a work of art. Enlightenment, romanticist and classicist notions flash up in those two terms. Schinkel restaged the burning of the city of Moscow on 6 September 1812 and created a sophisticated optical diorama, which was enthusiastically received by the Berlin audience. The exhibition will open with a reconstruction of this impressive construction.

Paul Gauguin and his flight to Tahiti

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Martinigue, 1897. Photo: Wikipedia

Primarily focusing on Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and his flight to Tahiti, the exhibition in Madrid will analyse how this journey to supposedly more authentic worlds resulted in an updating and rethinking of his creative idiom and to what extent this experience affected the transition towards modern art. The exhibition will survey the period that opens with Gauguin’s visual experiments in the South Seas and continues with the artistic investigations of subsequent artists such as Emil Nolde, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and August Macke, with the aim of revealing Gauguin’s influence on the early 20th-century avant-garde movements.