Friday, November 28, 2008

War Booty Goes on Display in Berlin

The exhibition, "The Return of the Gods – Berlin’s Hidden Olympus", opened in the Pergamonmuseum (Antikensammlung), Berlin this week (27 November 2008 - 5 July 2009). It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the return of antiquities from the (then) Soviet Union.
To also mark the occasion, the Collection of Classical Antiquities will be placing 170 art works on display, which, for restoration purposes, had had to remain in storage until now. The sculptures, vases and craftwork objects stand as representatives for thousands of art works which came back to Berlin after a period of exile in Moscow and St. Petersburg lasting thirteen years, the most important of which was the frieze of the world famous Pergamon Altar.
A short report has been issued (Brittani Sonneburg, "Berlin museum shows off antique gods", AP, November 27, 2008). The pieces were mostly derived from Italy, Turkey and Greece and formed part of the collection Frederick the Great.
In 1945, at the close of World War II, invading Soviet Soldiers seized the collection and sent it back to Russia, which was the fate of many artistic treasures in Germany. Russia declared the art had been seized as retribution for the 27 million Soviet lives lost and destruction of entire cities during the conflict. The two nations are still negotiating the return of many pieces.

But the Pergamon's antiquities were returned to East Germany 13 years later as a symbol of Cold War camaraderie between the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, as East Germany was known.
The restoration of the collection has been made with the support of a contribution from the Brazilian foundation, FAAP.

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