"What is enlightenment?" asked the Berlin pastor Johann Friedrich Zöllner in an article for the Berliner Monatsschrift in 1783. The magazine took up the question, posed it to its readers and thus initiated a debate about this concept that shaped the history of philosophy. The DHM is also posing this question in a new special exhibition.
The exhibition "What is Enlightenment?" focuses on the important debates of the era and takes account of the contradictions and ambivalences by presenting the ideas of this era not as a homogeneous project of progress, but by visualising conflicts over concepts and demands.
The aim is also to make it clear that their ideas of equality or tolerance do not correspond to our ideas today and were often not realised in practice. The Enlightenment is often cited in current discussions about social issues and the form of democracy. The exhibition endeavours to create a historical context for these discussions.
In its special exhibition, the DHM will focus on the so-called "long 18th century" from an international perspective. The spectrum of topics ranges from the search for knowledge and the new science to questions of religion, human equality and freedom, the demand for civil rights, mercantilism and cosmopolitanism.
In addition to exhibits from the DHM collections, loans from museums and archives in Germany, France, Great Britain, Austria and the United States will also be on display. Multimedia and interactive elements complement the exhibition themes and actively involve visitors. A children's trail will make it clear that the questions of the Enlightenment can also be directed at them. A broad accompanying programme is being planned.
The exhibition is curated by Prof Dr Liliane Weissberg.