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

The Northern Vermeer

Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916), Photo: Wikipedia

The Kunsthalle in München is presenting the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916). With more than 100 outstanding works, this retrospective not only offers an overview of his entire creative output, it also places this painter of silence and light in the context of his European contemporaries around 1900. Over 30 carefully selected paintings by artists such as Fantin-Latour, Matisse, Munch, Seurat and Whistler position the Dane in an international context. Hammershøi has traditionally been viewed as a unique figure in Danish art – a monumental presence, overshadowing his contemporaries and seeking his equal both nationally and internationally. This exhibition seeks to broaden this narrow perspective.
The presentation explores not only the essential nature of Hammershøi’s art, with its limited range of colours, his dry brushwork and the atmosphere of tension, but also the central themes of his oeuvre, such as the isolated figure in a home setting, the empty room, the abandoned city and the stark landscape. These groupings are presented in a dialogue with works by foreign artists, in order to demonstrate the prominent position occupied by Hammershøi in European painting around 1900. Apart from tracing proven sources of inspiration, the retrospective highlights mutual discourses with various artists. Thus, it becomes apparent that people throughout Europe around the turn of the twentieth century were preoccupied with common ideals, fears and desires. Particular parallels can be found in the realm of the international Symbolist movement, and relate to phenomena like moods or the sheer human existence, as opposed to purely narrative compositions.

The Splendour of Medieval Book Illumination

Gospel lectionary of Henry II, Reichenau, c. 1010, depecting Matthew. Photo:

With 72 extraordinary manuscripts from the collection of the Bavarian State Library, as well as three exceptional works from the Bamberg State Library, the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation presents a wide overview of the earliest and most precious examples of German book illumination. These 75 magnificent volumes represent some of the greatest cultural and artistic achievements of the Carolingian, Ottonian and Romanesque eras. Within this library’s extensive collection, the Ottonian manuscripts in particular form a unique nucleus that is unsurpassed worldwide. Owing to their extraordinary fragility, these highly valuable works can hardly ever leave the library’s vault. This exhibition of original manuscripts therefore offers a unique opportunity to discover thousand-year-old testimonies to our cultural heritage.

The Hanseatic League and European Cooperation

Leonhard von Töbing, major of Lünenburg (1566-1591). Photo: Townhall Lünenburg

As a consequence of the monopoly that Lüneburg had for many years as a supplier of salt, it very quickly became a member of the Hanseatic League. The League was formed in 1158 in Lübeckn intially as a union of individual merchants, but in 1356 it met as a federation of trading towns. Lüneburg’s salt was needed in order to pickle the Herring caught in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The Scania Market at Scania in Sweden was a major fish market for herring and became one of the most important trade events in Northern Europe during this period. Lüneburg’s salt was in great demand and the town quickly became one of the wealthiest and most important towns in the Hanseatic League, together with Bergen, Visby and Lübeck. This European trade organisation functioned remarkably well, without a political union and without a single currency. The exhibition in the Ostpreußen Landesmuseum in Lüneburg shows centuries of close European political and trading contacts between seven of today’s European northern countries, united in the Hanseatic League. Two hundred objects from 40 museums tell the story of the astonishing mobility of people, transport of goods, sea voyages, trade, diplomacy, art, social life, marriage, dynasties, architecture and languages. The medieval people managed rather well to bridge the cultural and physical gaps, may even better than today’s European.

The Olympic Games

Statue of a runner, c. 490 BC. Archaeological Museum Olympia. Photo: Martin Gropius Bau Museum

This magnificent exhibition in the Martin Gropius Museum in Berlin is devoted to the ancient Olympia shrine and its cult and to the contests held there that are revived every four years in the modern Olympic Games. Over 500 valuable loans from Greece will be on display. Important loans from the Vatican, Paris, Rome, Dresden and Munich will supplement the grand panorama. The world-famous myth associated with the name of the Olympia shrine in the Peloponnesus since ancient times will be presented in a presentation of the shrine showing the most valuable archaeological finds, a presentation of the ancient Games in Olympia and a documentation of the history of the excavations. The ancient shrine was founded circa 1000 B.C. for Zeus, the supreme god of the Ancient Greeks, and flourished for about 1,500 years. In classical times a great temple decorated with sculptures was built to Zeus. Reconstructions of the two gables of the Temple of Zeus, each measuring about 30 metres in length, have been erected to form the centrepiece of the exhibition. Significant finds from the excavations are shown against the background of the methods used: section drawings, find documentations, prospections. A special hall shows a collection of relevant loans from the Vatican, Athens, Rome and Dresden.