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The Vorderasiatisches Museum in the GDR

The Museum of the Ancient Near East was the only museum of the National Museums in Berlin to be based exclusively in East Berlin. How the "collective" of the Museum of the Ancient Near East in the GDR carried out its museum tasks in the areas of collecting, preserving, researching, exhibiting and mediating is the subject of this special presentation in the Pergamon Museum.

1958 werden die von der Sowjetunion beschlagnahmten Kunstwerke wieder in die Ausstellung integriert
1958 werden die von der Sowjetunion beschlagnahmten Kunstwerke wieder in die Ausstellung integriert © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum

The occasion is the 30th anniversary of the reunification of the Berlin museums on January 1, 2022. January 1, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the reunification of the National Museums in Berlin and the West Berlin State Museums of Prussian Cultural Heritage. To mark this occasion, the Vorderasiatisches Museum is examining its recent past and asking about the role of the museum and the museum association in the GDR.

What was the museum's involvement in the international research community like? Which special exhibitions in Germany and abroad were developed, and how did the work of the museum's educational service take shape? As an integral part of Berlin's urban history, the voices and memories of museum visitors of the time are also integrated into the exhibition.

The role of museums in the society of the GDR

The role of museums in the society of the GDR and in historical-political education has played only a secondary role in the reappraisal of the SED dictatorship. Even after 30 years of reunification, the image of the "Wall" is still often used in East-West comparisons. Does this also apply to the two museum landscapes? What standards in restoration and museum education existed in East and West, and what prevailed? Taking the Museum of the Ancient Near East as an example, we will show how the museum or its staff operated in the GDR.

Fascinating archive material, photographs, film clips and original objects

This much can be revealed: The museum's work bore no resemblance to the historical images shaped by spy and Stasi films, and the Museum of the Ancient Near East did not have to shy away from international comparison either: it organized spectacular events for visitors*, its research took place on an equal footing with international colleagues, and its special exhibitions were shown at home and abroad. The special presentation approaches this exciting and little illuminated chapter by means of selected archive material, photographs, film clips and numerous original objects.

The exhibition is made possible by the Förderverein Freunde der Antike auf der Museumsinsel Berlin e.V. (Friends of Antiquity on the Museum Island Berlin).

To mark the opening of the exhibition, an all-day symposium will be held on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, in the auditorium of the James Simon Gallery. Contemporary witnesses and historians will bring together different perspectives and discuss new research approaches.

The program of the symposium will be published online in due time.

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Additional information
Price info: Pergamon Museum

Price: €12.00

Reduced price: €6.00
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