In Conversation with the Children’s Advisory Board

Opening of the children’s exhibition “Dive into the Picture!”

Editors | 5 June 2024

On 1 June 2024 the children’s exhibition “Dive into the Picture! Time Travel for Kids” was opened in the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM). During the festive event the curators Petra Larass and Stephanie Neuner as well as the museum’s president Raphael Gross spoke with Colin, Željka, Linda and Vincent from the Children’s Advisory Board.

Petra Larass: Our title “Dive into the Picture!” is precisely the plan: the time travel begins right at the entrance of the exhibition with a spirited stride through a huge picture frame. We leave the present day behind and follow the mysterious shadow figures from the past! Who are they? Where are they beckoning us to come? In the exhibition these figures invite you to take part in their lives 500 years ago. A patrician woman reports on the society of her time, a rider looks forward to a tournament contest accompanied by music, the son of a merchant from Lisbon is in town and talks about craftsmanship and trade, and finally a shepherd tells about people living in nature. In the exhibition visitors can explore the topics of the main painting and some 60 further objects from past times and interact with them intuitively on their own.

We developed many of the ideas that are found in the exhibition together with you kids from the Advisory Board, the “Clever Magic Dragons”. Željka, would you like to tell the audience about some of the ideas that you and the group came up with that then found their way into the exhibition?

Željka: At the beginning, for example, we made a leporello, a leaflet, and you can find this idea in the exhibition, namely in the workshop room. And you can touch and feel a whole lot of things, like the materials of the clothes from that time that are there behind the books.

Petra Larass: Vincent, do you have some other ideas?

Vincent: We painted and built some things.

Petra Larass: There’s one thing that completely surprised me: in the depot you discovered some inventory cards and for a moment that was just as exciting as the objects themselves.

Vincent: We got cards with numbers on them about the objects. For example, there was a very old toy. A little rattle that kids used to play with.

Petra Larass: And is this object really in the exhibition?

Vincent: Yes, it’s in the exhibition in a showcase.

Stephanie Neuner: Let’s all find our way together into the topics of the painting. With our title “Dive into the Picture!” we promise you kids, especially, but also the adults, an exciting journey through time. Where does this time travel take us? It takes us into the society of the 16th century and we find this in the “Augsburg Picture of the Months”. We see it in interaction and communication, in nature, at the hunt and in the games, at the festival, or sometimes in the stately parlour of the patrician or at the tournament area surrounded by arcades. But what kind of a time was it really in the 16th century, the time we see pictured here? It was a time of change, but nevertheless still caught up in conflict – a violent time. But it was also a time that was looking to the future, a time ready for a new start.

In a conversation with you, our dear Magic Dragons, we spoke about the mood in the picture and you said the picture is so joyful and positive. And I said, yes, but it was a time with many wars and conflicts. And you answered that the people painted the picture because they had a deep longing for peace. And one of you said, in fact it’s still like that today.

There are different thematic areas in the exhibition: nature, music and games, trade and commerce, and handicrafts as well as society in the 16th century. Now I want to ask you: Which topic do you like in particular?

Željka: I find the topic of nature especially good because I like nature in general very much.

Linda: I find the topic of society quite interesting because so much has changed. Many people now work in buildings and earlier they maybe had to spend more time outside.

Vincent: I’m interested in how people used to do trade, because earlier there weren’t as many things that were on offer. Today we go to the supermarket and buy things, and in the past they traded with meat, herbs and vegetables. You gave somebody meat and that person gave you vegetables in return.

Colin: I found quite a few topics interesting – actually, trade hangs together with all the other topics. In nature we find things that society then trades, and that’s why I’m interested in all the topics.

Stephanie Neuner: Colin, I want to ask you something else. I know that you are the absolute expert on the topic of restoration. Today there are namely two premieres. We are showing the first ever children’s exhibition in the DHM and are also showing the Augsburg Picture of the Months for the first time after a very elaborate restoration process and with a new frame. Colin, can you tell us what the restoration did with the picture? It was pretty kaputt when it arrived at the museum, wasn’t it?

Colin: The picture was pretty much destroyed and kaputt. The restoration tried to get the picture back into an orderly condition by first peeling off a layer that had been put on for protection a long time ago. A lot of the paint had crumbled away and that had to be replaced, of course. A particular technique had to be used for that – very little dots or lines were added to make the picture look old again. The technique is called tratteggio.

Stephanie Neuner: Thanks very much, Colin! Can you tell us where in the exhibition you learned something about restoration?

Colin: There is a workshop in the exhibition. There you can learn a whole lot about restoration. There is not only one “Augsburg Picture of the Months” – there are several. The other pictures of the months can be seen there, but not the originals. I don’t know whether the other three paintings have been restored or are in the collection.

Raphael Gross: Yes, fortunately we also have the other Pictures of the Months. But first we want to display the Augsburg picture of the months January, February, March in a restored condition. In the former Permanent Exhibition the whole cycle of paintings could be seen.

Colin: Good to know.

Stephanie Neuner: Okay, Magic Dragons, I have another question: Which object in the exhibition do you like best?

Željka: I like everything which is on the table of the patrician woman. And the book about herbs.

Linda: I like the knife and fork that are made of metal and ivory. I think it’s cool that people ate with such valuable things.

Vincent: I like the knight’s armour in the exhibition best of all.

Colin: I have two favourite objects, namely the chess board, which looks pretty beautiful. And the baby’s rattle – there’s a bear’s tooth on the base. And I ask myself every time: Which baby played with such a rattle?

Petra Larass: For exactly three years, since the 1st of June 2021, we have been working together with the Magic Dragons. I can remember that together we visited many people who work here in the DHM. For example the people in the …

Vincent: We were in the depot, in the workshop, and also in the restoration department.

Petra Larass: What surprised you most of all?

Linda: What surprised me was how many people work on the exhibition. There are very, very many people involved. I think that’s really exciting!