The focus of this special exhibition are two impressive plaster models of the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate, which were made in 1957/58. These models, which have been functionally restored by the Gipsformerei, represent the unique evidence of Johann Gottfried Schadow's original Quadriga, which was destroyed in 1945/50.
These plaster models reveal traces that are no longer present in the current Quadriga replica. They document the eventful history of the original from 1793. The exhibition also presents other outstanding exhibits, such as the remains of the protective impression created in 1942 as well as numerous pictures, photographs and film recordings. These plaster models are embedded in a richly illustrated journey through time through the last 235 years. The exhibition spans the creation of the Quadriga through its destruction and re-creation right up to the present.
The plaster models of the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate were brought together, documented and restored in a show workshop in the Bundestag Wall Memorial from 2020 to 2022. This joint project by the Art Advisory Board of the German Bundestag, the plaster molding department of the Berlin State Museums and the Berlin State Monuments Office is now presenting its results in this special exhibition.
An extensive documentary volume entitled "The Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate. In Search of the Original" summarizes the contributions of restoration, monument preservation and historical research.
The Brandenburg Gate with its Quadriga is Berlin's most famous landmark and known worldwide as a symbol of German division and reunification. However, the quadriga standing on the gate is not the original from 1793, created by Johann Gottfried Schadow, the founder of the Berlin school of sculpture. The original was badly damaged in the Second World War and destroyed in 1950. A replica of the Quadriga has stood on the Brandenburg Gate since 1958. This replica was created using protective molds from 1942, of which only Victoria's face remains. For the first time, the exhibition offers the opportunity to view this valuable form up close. From 1957 onwards, the plaster molding shop made models from the protective impressions, and the Noack picture foundry created the Quadriga as copper chased work in 1958. This process and the production of the Quadriga are illustrated using photographic and film documents. Workpieces made of plaster, sand, zinc and copper also show how demanding the craftsmanship was in reproducing the Quadriga. A documentary film produced specifically for the exhibition illustrates this technically demanding process.
The plaster models of the four horses during the restoration also provided surprises. One horse differs significantly in execution from the others, as it has slimmer legs and a flat-lying mane. This can be traced back to repairs to the horses in Paris in 1808.
The objects in the exhibition are cleverly related to the complex history of the Quadriga. It also examines the special significance of the Victoria standard throughout its history, which was visible without the eagle and Iron Cross from the time the replica Quadriga was erected in September 1958 until 1991. Eight richly illustrated panels provide historical background information and show the Quadriga in different eras, such as Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, the division of Germany, reunification and up to the present day the show workshop. In addition, the parapet relief on the Brandenburg Gate "Train of Peace" can be admired in its original size, in the form of a historical, over seven meter long photo from 1926. The original symbolic meaning of the Brandenburg Gate, designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and in the year Commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1788, it is clearly presented using the relief figures and their objects created by Schadow's workshop.