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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although there’s still time to see the exhibitions „documenta. Politics and Art“ (until 9 January 2022) and “’Divinely Gifted’. National Socialism’s Favoured Artists in the Federal Republic” (until 5 December 2021) at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, we would like to take this opportunity to offer a sneak peak at our program for the upcoming year.

From February and April on, respectively, the DHM is devoting itself to two of the world’s most influential 19th-century personalities in the exhibitions “Karl Marx and Capitalism” (10 February – 21 August 2022) and “Richard Wagner and the Nationalization of Feeling” (8 April – 11 September 2022).

In late April, the photography exhibition “Herlinde Koelbl. Angela Merkel Portraits 1991 – 2021” (29 April – 4 September 2022) opens: this internationally unparalleled portrait series traces Merkel’s rise from young politician to chancellor and on to “global leader” while simultaneously recording an unusual acquaintance.

From July 2022 on, the exhibition “Citizenships. The Struggle for Political Belonging in Germany, France, and Poland Since the 19th Century (working title, 1 July 2022 – 15 January 2023) explores a shift in the meaning and mobilizing power of citizenship up to the present day. In the interim period until the opening of our new permanent exhibition, the exhibition “Roads Not Taken. Another German History” (from 25 November 2022) will be on view across ca. 1,000 square meters until approximately mid-2025.

DHM exhibition preview 2022
as of 18 October 2021, subjet to changes

10 February to 21 August 2022
Karl Marx and Capitalism

Industrialization catalyzed enormous economic, social, and cultural upheavals in the 19th century. Karl Marx was among the most important critics of the volatility of “modernity” and capitalism. As a philosopher, journalist, economist, and political activist, he aimed to make the new dynamics comprehensible and malleable. Like Richard Wagner, the subject of a parallel exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Musuem, Marx advanced to one of the most influential German personalities of the 19th century—with a controversial body of work still read across the world to this day.
The exhibition “Karl Marx and Capitalism” presents and problematizes that work and influence of Marx as a confrontation with a dynamically changing capitalism and the controversies of the 19th century. Themes that take center stage include the critique of religion and society, the emancipation of the Jews and antisemitism, revolutions, new technologies, nature and ecology, economy, as well as struggles and movements in Europe—themes that have lost none of their explosiveness, either. The exhibition thus connects the historicization of Marx to questions of his currency, while also taking a critical look at the reception of his theories in the 20th and 21st century.
The exhibition is curated by Sabine Kritter, after a concept by Johnathan Sperber.

8 April to 11.September 2022
Richard Wagner and the Nationalization of Feeling

In the course of the 19th century Richard Wagner wore many different hats – as an efficaciious composer and musician in the employ of the royal court as well as an author, as a revolutionary, as an exile, as an insolvent debtor, as the protégé of wealthy patrons and of a king, as a theatre reformer, as founder of a festival. However, he was not only witness to political upheavals and movements, but also registered, took up and (re-)shaped the social and emotional sensitivities of his time – as an artist, but also as an entrepreneur. In these capacities, Wagner reveals himself as a technician of emotions who identified and redefined the social significance of art – and the artist – in an increasingly commercialised world. To this end, he developed strategies in which emotions play a leading role. His concept of music drama as a “Gesamtkunstwerk”, a synthesis of the arts, always also implied a critique of Modernity. In this way it was marked by the ambition to change not only the individual, but also society as a whole – a desire which we also find in Karl Marx, the subject of a parallel exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Musuem, yet in a different form and manifestation. Wagner was an anti-Semite. To what degree his staging of emotions, his ideas of music and art, his fantasy of oppression and redemption, as well as his critique of Modernity were influenced by this anti-Semitism, or if it constituted anti-Semitism itself, remains controversial to this day. The exhibition deals with Wagner’s staging of concrete emotions and examines the history of his concepts in the context of the 19th century.
The exhibition is curated by Michael Steinberg. The scientific co-curator is Katharina J. Schneider.

29 April to 4 September 2022
Herlinde Koelbl. Angela Merkel
Portraits 1991 – 2021

When Angela Merkel’s tenure as federal chancellor ends in autumn 2021, a worldwide unique project of the photographer Herlinde Koelbl also comes to an end: With a brief hiatus, Herlinde Koelbl has accompanied Angela Merkel over a period of 30 years, from 1991, when she entered the political arena, until today. The periodic portrait sessions document her rise from a young, inexperienced politician to chancellor of the Federal Republic and finally to the rank of a global leader. The photographs combine to form a time journey through the era Angela Merkel. No similarly comprehensive portrait series exists for a comparable international ascent of any other politician. The close-ups capture an extreme physical and psychic transformation and form at the same time the protocol of an unusual encounter. For the visitors of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, the series offers the opportunity to trace the stations of Merkel’s chancellorship. In the year 1999, the DHM had shown the exhibition “Traces of Power”, for which Herlinde Koelbl repeatedly portrayed fifteen leaders from the areas of politics, industry and the media over a period of eight years, including Angela Merkel. Koelbl continued the cooperation with Merkel, thus forming a direct connection between the earlier and the current exhibition projects.
1 July 2022 to 15 January 2023
Citizenships. The Struggle for Political Belonging in Germany, France and Poland since the 19th century (working title)

Do you belong here? Or don’t you? This question triggers strong, even conflicting feelings. Many of these feelings are bound together by the idea of citizenship: a legal status that brings some people together while separating others. Citizenship fosters a sense of national and political community, but it also denotes a set of differences and gives priority over those outside the community. Being closely linked with the modern nation state, citizenship became the object of struggles for political participation and cultural belonging. It determined who got to enjoy the protection of the welfare state, who had a say in politics, and, during the time of national service and the draft, who had to risk their life for the state. Citizenship thus helped forge identity constructs at the national, collective level and was pivotal in ensuring a person’s life prospects and chances of survival in the European states of the 19th and 20th century.

In a broad sweep from the ‘long’ 19th century to the present day, the exhibition shows the changing face of both the meaning of citizenship and its power to galvanize. It quickly rose to become the dominant form of political belonging in the age of the nation state, was used by dictatorships as an instrument of ethnic and political selection, and is currently experiencing a sea change in the face of citizenship of the supranational European Union. This is shown in the exhibition based on three European countries – Germany, France, and Poland – which as neighbouring states were existentially entangled by sharp conflicts and close political cooperation.

The exhibition is curated by Prof. Dieter Gosewinkel.

From 25 November 2022
Roads not Taken. Another German history

In the run-up to the opening of the newly designed permanent exhibition, the exhibition “Roads not Taken. Another German History” is due to go on show from November 2022 until mid-2025. The special exhibit will be presented in the Pei building, with approx. 1000 m² exhibition space at its disposal. The presentation will present a broad sweep of the history of Germany through the 19th and 20th century, with each chapter of that history told through a series of objects. The title “Roads not Taken” provides the backbone structure to the exhibit: Starting with a set of key dates in German history, details of actual historical events will be set against the backdrop of other options and other possible outcomes, laid out as a chain of pivotal and often dramatic turning points. This unusual speculative approach raises inextricable questions about underlying or even engrained patterns, but also the importance of key decision-makers and political figures and the role of chance in shaping the course of history. The exhibition’s primary goal is to help visitors see the familiar from a new angle and to sharpen an awareness that history is not ‘a closed book’ but essentially an open process.

The project manager is Fritz Backhaus; the curatorial team consists of Julia Franke, Stefan Paul-Jacobs, and Dr. Lili Reyels.

Kind regards,
Daniela Lange
Press and Rublic Relations