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Objects on the move

From the Kunstkammer into the museum

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Kunstkammer, once located in the Berlin Palace, was the origin of the Berlin museum landscape. Objects from nature, art and science were brought together in this collection, which existed from the 16th until far into the 19th century. In the 19th century, little by little objects entered into the newly-founded Berlin museums, where they were allocated to different collections in the course of time. Today, objects from the Kunstkammer can be found in almost all of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

The biographies of these objects, their changing interpretations and paths into the museum are being explored by the DFG project “Das Fenster zur Natur und Kunst” (“A Window onto Nature and Art”). The project is a cooperation between the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It addresses the question of what interpretation was associated with the objects on their designation to the respective new collections and thus gains new insights into the history of the Kunstkammer and the development of the museums.



In the exhibition intervention “Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum”, five objects are presented in surprising constellations at the Kulturforum and on the Museumsinsel. It examines their routes through the collections and explores transcultural aspects. The online version of this exhibition invites you to discover more about individual objects and also presents other objects. 

An exhibition project by “WEITWINKEL Globale Sammlungsperspektiven” (“WEITWINKEL Global Perspectives on Collections”)

German version





Floorplan of The Kunstkammer, Plan of Berlin Schloss (castle) from 1794

Aus der Sammlung von

Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin Brandenburg

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SPSG

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From the Kunstkammer ...

The Berlin Kunstkammer was a universal collection. It contained many fields of knowledge and thus corresponded to a type of collection that was very common from the 16th until far into the 18th century. At this time, Kunstkammern could be found at royal courts, but also in the context of academic culture. They were the early forms of today’s museums.



Kunstkammer at Neues Museum. from: Das Neue Museum in Berlin von Stüler, Potsdam 1853

Aus der Sammlung von

TU Berlin Architekturmuseum

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© Architekturmuseum TU Berlin

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...into the museum

Museums had been founded time and time again in Berlin since the early 19th century. Many of them received holdings from the Kunstkammer like, for instance, the Altes Museum, which was founded in 1830, or the Neues Museum, which opened in 1855. At the same time, the Kunstkammer continued to exist as a department of the "Königliche Museen zu Berlin". A long process began, in which the objects from the Kunstkammer were allocated little by little to the new museums.



Inventory of the Kurfürstlich-Brandenburgischen Kunstkammer (1694)

Aus der Sammlung von

Geheimes Staatsarchiv - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Geheimes Staatsarchiv - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Objects on the move

The DFG project "Das Fenster zur Natur und Kunst” (“A Window onto Nature and Art") examines the history of the Berlin Kunstkammer from the perspective of object biographies: how did the objects enter the collection? How were they classified in the collection, how presented in the room? How were they transferred to the museums that were founded from the 19th century onwards? And what interpretations were associated with these processes?



View into the former ivory room of the Kunstkammer at Berliner Stadtschloss

Gustav Schwarz, Photography, um 1930

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Zentralarchiv

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Zentralarchiv

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Working with different sources like inventories, visitor reports, museum guides and visual representations of collection rooms is the basis of object biography research. 

01

The Oldenburg Drinking Horn



The Oldenburg Drinking Horn

Work on Paper, around 1550

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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This drawing from the 16th century shows the Oldenburg Horn, one of the most famous pieces of gold work of the late Gothic period. Today, the drawing is kept in the Kunstbibliothek of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.



Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano: Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Alte deutsche Lieder. Heidelberg 1808.
The boy's magic horn: Traditional German Songs by
Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, Heidelberg 1808

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

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Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK / Abteilung Historische Drucke / Signatur: 19 ZZ 2004-2.

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The Oldenburg Horn became popular due to Achim von Arnim’s and Clemens Brentano’s collection of songs “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” (1805-1808). It is thereby an important testimony to the rediscovery of medieval art by the Romantics in the 19th century.



Inventory of the Kurfürstlich-Brandenburgischen Kunstkammer (1694)

Aus der Sammlung von

Geheimes Staatsarchiv - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Geheimes Staatsarchiv - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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The drawing of the Oldenburg Horn has travelled a long way through various collections, which gives a rare insight into the history of the development of the Berlin museums. In the 18th century, it was part of the Kunstkammer in the Berlin Palace. In the Kunstkammer’s inventory of 1694, you can find the entry "24. Das Oldenburgische Wunderhorn Vergüldet ist in einem schwartzen rahmen" („The Oldenburg Drinking Horn, gold-plated, within a black frame“). The drawing referred to a spectacular object from the Copenhagen Kunstkammer. This was where the Oldenburg Horn was to be found until the early 19th century.



The new building of the former Deutsches Gewerbemuseum in Berlin after its completion in 1881

Wood engraving after G. Theuerkauf, 1878

Aus der Sammlung von

Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB)

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SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek / Regine Richter

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After stations in the Neues Museum and in the Deutsches Gewerbe-Museum (today’s Kunstgewerbemuseum), which was housed in the Martin Gropius Building at that time, the drawing of the Oldenburg Horn finally found its way into the library of the Gewerbe-Museum (today’s Kunstbibliothek) in 1907, which was housed in the Prinz-Albrecht-Straße, today’s Niederkirchner Straße.



Buchausgabe im Lesesaal der Bibliothek des Kunstgewerbemuseum

Waldemar Titzenthaler, 1906, Berlin

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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The library was already a separate department of the Königliche Museen at that time. Up to 1894, it had been part of the Gewerbe-Museum and had served, above all, as a teaching collection of the Kunstgewerbeschule associated with the museum. In these new surroundings, the drawing of the Oldenburg Horn was part of an exemplary collection. It could serve artists, designers and manufacturers as an inspiration for their work. 



The Oldenburg Drinking Horn

Work on Paper, around 1550

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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In the intervention "Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum" the drawing of the Oldenburg Horn is shown in the exhibition "Spätgotik. Aufbruch in die Neuzeit" (“Late Gothic. The Birth of Modernity” / Gemäldegalerie).

02

"Perpetual Calendar"



"Perpetual Calendar"

around 1579, Pfronten, Allgäu, Germany

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Foto: Ute Franz-Scarciglia

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The church feast days can be determined with the aid of this perpetual calendar, which originated in the Allgäu region around 1579. The figurative depictions indicate the fixed holidays. They frequently show saints – on the wooden sheet on the left, which is dedicated to the "Wyntermon" (November), you can discern the lettering "Martinus". To the left of this, St. Martin is portrayed as a bishop. The signs on the lower part of the sheet serve to determine the days of the week in the respective year.



Diana and the stag

Matthias Walbaum (1554-1632), goldsmith, Drinking game automaton, 1600 - 1605, Augsburg, Germany

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstgewerbemuseum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstgewerbemuseum, Foto: Saturia Linke

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Wooden calendars could be found in the Berlin Kunstkammer from the middle of the 19th century onwards. Many small sculptures and precious artisan craftworks were located here, for instance this Diana automaton from around 1600. Many of these are kept in the Kunstgewerbemuseum and in the Skulpturensammlung of the Staatliche Museen today. However, the Kunstkammer was considerably more diverse. It also contained ethnographic objects, including a few from Europe.



"European Cabinet" from Neues Museum, 1860

Reconstruction for the exhibition "Faszination Bild" (25 June 1999 - 3 April 2005) at Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Foto: Ute Franz-Scarciglia

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The Berlin Kunstkammer’s ethnographic objects originating from Europe were, for the most part, allocated to the ethnographic department of the Neues Museum in the 19th century. They were housed here in a cabinet, which was reconstructed in the Museum Europäischer Kulturen in 1999.



Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Königgrätzer Street, corner Prinz- Albrecht-Street, Berlin; built 1880-1886

around 1920

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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In 1886, the European objects, together with several thousand other non-European ethnographic objects, moved from the Neues Museum to the then newly-opened Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde, today’s Ethnologisches Museum. However, they were not exhibited here. 

In reaction to this, Rudolf Virchow founded a museum in 1889, which was supposed to show items from the rural regions of Germany and the neighbouring European territories. Some European objects from the Museum für Völkerkunde were added into the newly created collection.



View into the permanent exhibition of 1980s at Museum für Deutsche Volkskunde, Berlin/West

Photography, 1981

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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In 1904, the museum founded by Virchow became part of the Königliche Museen as the Königliche Sammlung für deutsche Volkskunde. After the Second World War, two parallel museums for ethnology were established in East and West Berlin. Both of these were predecessor institutions of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen, which was founded in 1999 and in which the calendar is kept today. 



"Perpetual Calendar"

around 1579, Pfronten, Allgäu, Germany

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Foto: Ute Franz-Scarciglia

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In the intervention "Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum" the "Perpetual Calendar" is shown in the Bode Museum.

03

"The Eye of Nebuchadnezzar"



Eye of Nebuchadnezzar

18th century

Aus der Sammlung von

Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Photo: Olaf M. Teßner

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This replica from the 18th century shows the head of a warrior together with a dedicatory inscription of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II. An eye stone, which was presumably made of onyx in the 6th century BC for the effigy of Marduk, the god of the city of Babylon, probably served as a model. 

The replica is the first object in the Berlin collections with cuneiform writing and is often referred to in the literature as the "Eye of Nebuchadnezzar". It has become quite famous beyond professional circles.



Etruscan Scarab

500 B.C.
purchased 1764

Aus der Sammlung von

Antikensammlung - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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© Photo: Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz Photographer: Johannes Laurentius

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When the replica of the Babylonian eye stone came to Berlin, it was part of the collection of the Prussian scholar and diplomat Philipp von Stosch. This was one of the most important collections of gems in the 18th century and is part of the foundation stock of the Altes Museum. In the Stosch Collection, the replica was situated in the vicinity of a wide range of mainly Roman and Greek gems.



Cabinet of Antiquities around 1696 (ideal view). From: Thesaurus Brandenburgicus Selectus, Volume 1, Berlin 1696

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstbibliothek, Foto: Dietmar Katz

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This was similar to the first 150 years of its Berlin history. For a long time, the "Eye of Nebuchadnezzar" first belonged to the Antiquities Department of the Kunstkammer here, which in turn was primarily devoted to Greek and Roman pieces. After 1830, the replica was shown in the Antiquarium of the newly-founded Altes Museum.



Visitors in front of the Ischtar Gate at Pergamonmuseum

Dieter Breitenborn, Photo, after 1945

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Zentralarchiv

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Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Zentralarchiv

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It was not until the second half of the 19th century that interest in archaeological finds from the Ancient Near East increased in Berlin, after spectacular finds had delighted the museum public in London and Paris. Finally, in 1899, the Vorderasiatisches Museum was founded, in which the replica is kept today. 

The Berlin history of this object indicates that, in addition to artisan craftwork items, the Kunstkammer contained a wide variety of objects from different fields of knowledge, whose relevance had been reassessed time and time again.



Eye of Nebuchadnezzar

18th century

Aus der Sammlung von

Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Photo: Olaf M. Teßner

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In the intervention "Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum" the "Eye of Nebuchadnezzar" is shown in the Vorderasiatisches Museum.

04

Plate from Iznik



Plate (pottery)

First quarter of the 17th century, Iznik, Turkey

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum für Islamische Kunst

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Museum für Islamische Kunst der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Foto: Johannes Kramer

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This plate comes from the ceramic workshops of Iznik in Western Turkey. Ceramics from this city are famous for their vibrant red tone and the fine ceramics in brilliant white. 

The path that the plate from Iznik went through in the Berlin museums shows how the perspective of an object can change in the course of its assignment to different collections and how transcultural references become more or less visible, depending on the collection the object is located in.



Neues Museum on the Museum Island, Berlin: west-facing facade

Photography

Aus der Sammlung von

Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin

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© Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin, Inventarnummer: F 6885

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In the 19th century, the plate found its way into the Berlin Kunstkammer, which was a department of the Neues Museum at that time. In contrast to many non-European objects, it was not allocated to the ethnographic department, but perceived to be artisan craftwork.



Back of Plate (pottery)

First quarter of the 17th century, Iznik, Turkey

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum für Islamische Kunst

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Museum für Islamische Kunst der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Foto: Johannes Kramer

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In 1875, the plate from Iznik came into the Berlin Gewerbe-Museum (today’s Kunstgewerbemuseum). Here it was given the inventory number K (as in Kunstkammer) 2352. This can still be seen today on the reverse side of the plate. 

Indeed, Iznik ceramics had already been imported into Europe since the 16th century. However, the knowledge that this ceramic was made in Turkey was no longer present in Europe. Hence, in the inventory from 1875 that documents the transfer of the Kunstkammer objects into the Gewerbe-Museum, the plate was classified in the category "Persian Rhodian faiences".



Big plate
Majolica with inglaze painting

plate, um 1630, Padua

Aus der Sammlung von

Kunstgewerbemuseum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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©Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Foto: Manuela Krüger

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In the beginning, ceramics from Iznik were blue-white and influenced by Chinese porcelain. Later on, they themselves became models for Italian ceramics. These connections were recognisable for the visitors to the Gewerbe-Museum. Here, the plate was part of a transculturally conceived collection for quality artisan craftwork. 

In addition to examples from Europe, works from the Islamic world and from East Asia could be found here. Italian majolica, on which a direct influence from Iznik can be discerned, was also shown in the Gewerbe-Museum.



Museum für Islamische Kunst at Pergamonmuseum, Turkisch Room, Room 15

Photo, 1935

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Zentralarchiv

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Zentralarchiv der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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It was not until the 1920s that the plate was finally handed over to the newly-founded Museum für Islamische Kunst, to become part of a comprehensive collection of ceramics from Iznik. This allows us to understand the development of Iznik ceramics. In these surroundings, the plate can serve as an object of study for reflecting on the production and design of ceramics in the Islamic world.



Plate (pottery)

First quarter of the 17th century, Iznik, Turkey

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum für Islamische Kunst

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Museum für Islamische Kunst der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Foto: Johannes Kramer

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In the intervention "Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum" the plate from Iznik is shown in the Kunstgewerbemuseum.

05

Small cabinet



Small cabinet

First half of 19th century, Japan

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum, Foto: Claudia Obrocki

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This small lacquer cabinet from the first half of the 19th century comes from Japan and was presumably made for the European market. Lacquerware from East Asia had been very fashionable in Europe since the 17th century, where it decorated the houses of the nobility and royalty.



Small cabinet (open)

First half of 19th century, Japan

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum, Foto: Claudia Obrocki

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There was presumably East Asian furniture in the Berlin Kunstkammer similar to the Japanese cabinet as early as 1700. This is indicated by the report of an anonymous Venetian about his visit to the Kunstkammer at the beginning of the 18th century. He talks about “small Chinese cabinets in various forms” here – in a way which was typically imprecise at that time for describing non-European objects.



Coin- and medal cabinet from the antiquity and medal cabinett of the Kunstkammer at Berliner Schloss

Gérard Dagly, cabinet, around 1695, Berlin

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstgewerbemuseum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Kunstgewerbemuseum, Foto: Tomasz Samek

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Furniture like the Japanese lacquer cabinet was possibly also a model for the cabinets made by the Berlin lacquer artist Gérard Dagly in the 1690s, in which the coins of the Kunstkammer were kept. One of these cabinets can be found in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Köpenick today.



Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Königgrätzer Street, corner Prinz- Albrecht-Street, Berlin; built 1880-1886

around 1920

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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In the 19th century, the holdings of the Kunstkammer were allocated little by little to the newly-founded museums. In 1886, the East Asian objects found their way into the Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde, today’s Ethnologisches Museum.



Picnic box in the shape of a pumpkin

Edo (Tokugawa)-Time, around 1700, Japan

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum für Asiatische Kunst

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Foto: Jörg von Bruchhausen

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Whereas some East Asian objects from the Kunstkammer remained in the Museum für Völkerkunde (today’s Ethnologisches Museum), others moved on further to the Museum für Asiatische Kunst. One criterion seemed to have been, whether the objects were export goods produced for European buyers or "authentic" works created for the East Asian market. Thus, the small lacquer cabinet remained in the Völkerkundemuseum, whereas the picnic basket in the form of a pumpkin, made in Japan around 1700, found its way into the Museum für Asiatische Kunst. The allocation could, however, not always be reconstructed.



Small cabinet

First half of 19th century, Japan

Aus der Sammlung von

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum

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Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Ethnologisches Museum, Foto: Claudia Obrocki

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In the intervention "Objects on the move. From the Kunstkammer into the museum" the small cabinet is shown in the Kunstgewerbemuseum.

Eine virtuelle Ausstellung von

Team

Exhibition concept: Eva Dolezel and Catalina Heroven

Team: Lisa Polten und Annika Thielen

Erstellt mit :
DDB Studio
Ein Service von:
DDB Studio

Diese Ausstellung wurde am 07.09.2021 veröffentlicht.



Impressum

Die virtuelle Ausstellung Objects on the move wird veröffentlicht von:

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Stauffenbergstr. 41
10785 Berlin


gesetzlich vertreten durch

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation is legally represented by its President, Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Hermann Parzinger.

Telefon:
Fax:
E-Mail:  

Inhaltlich verantwortlich:

Dr. Eva Dolezel
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin  - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Generaldirektion
DFG-Projekt: Das Fenster zur Natur und Kunst. Eine historisch-kritische Aufarbeitung der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Kunstkammer
Stauffenbergstr. 41
10785 Berlin

Kurator*innen:

Dr. Eva Dolezel, Catalina Heroven, M.A.
Team: Lisa Polten, Annika Thielen

 

DDBstudio wird angeboten von:  
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, gesetzlich vertreten durch ihren Präsidenten,
handelnd für das durch Verwaltungs- und Finanzabkommen zwischen Bund und Ländern errichtete Kompetenznetzwerk

Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
c/o Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Von-der-Heydt-Straße 16-18
10785 Berlin 

Telefon: +49 (0)30 266-41 1432, Fax: +49 (0) 30 266-31 1432,
E-Mail: geschaeftsstelle@deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de

Umsatzsteueridentifikationsnummer: 
DE 13 66 30 206

Inhaltlich verantwortlich: 
Prof. Monika Hagedorn-Saupe
komissarische Leiterin der Geschäftsstelle
Finanzen, Recht, Kommunikation, Marketing
Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
c/o Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Von-der-Heydt-Straße 16-18
10785 Berlin

Konzeption:
Nicole Lücking, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
Stephan Bartholmei, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
Dr. Michael Müller, Culture to Go GbR

Design: 
Andrea Mikuljan, FIZ Karlsruhe - Leibniz Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

Technische Umsetzung:
Culture to Go GbR mit Grandgeorg Websolutions

Hosting und Betrieb:  
FIZ Karlsruhe - Leibniz Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

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Doppelklick
Escape-Taste
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