It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Children's and Young People's Department, Berlin State Library

 (From 12 Monate des Jahrs, Frederic Terrisse, 1853)

Early Thursday morning Dr. Carola Pohlman, the director of the Children’s and Young People’s Book Department  at the Berlin State Library welcomed us to Westhafen where this department is temporarily located because the  House Unter den Linden-branch is under re-structure.
First Dr. Pohlman gave us an excellent historical overview of the library development. At the earlier days of the library’s existence children books were not collected, it was first 1951 when this changed and since then every published German children book was acquired.  The library began the systematic acquisition of original illustrations for children books in 1978 and that collection includes more than 10000 pieces by 140 illustrators.  
Today the library has 200 000 volumes, these cannot be borrowed, but only viewed in the reading room. The collection in Berlin is one of the largest and most outstanding of its kind in Europe.
After viewing a large number of first edition volumes and seeing original illustrations published in Children books we toured the whole 200,000 volumes collection. Thank you Carola for a excellent morning!  
 Our great takeaway: a faximile of Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter (Frankfurt 1926)
More photos from our Thursday morning, please click here

2017 Arts and Archives: Humboldt explorations and educational reaching collections

In the morning we visited Dr. Jutta Weber, the Director of the Manuscript Department of the Germain State Library. This library was founded in 1661. It was an independent part of the Prussian state administration since 1810, which was closely connected with the newly founded university in Berlin. From 1810 to about 1884 the rise to the leading library of Prussia took place. In 1918 it was named the Prussian State Library, and it became one of the most important scientific libraries in the world. The Second World War caused great destruction to this institution, and its development was hampered for nearly half a century.

Today the Berlin State Library is placed on three different  localities: Haus Potsdamer Strasse designed by Hans Scharoun. The Potsdamer Strasse building it was opened to the public in 1978. It was renovated from 1999-2001. The building is currently being further redeveloped into a modern research library as a companion to the Haus Unter den Linden and will house the collection from 1946 onward. Parts House Unter den Linden is now under re-structure and children and youth literature are placed on a third location in Westhafen.

During our visit with the help of Dr. Jutta Weber, the director of the manuscript department, we focused on Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and his legacy, his travels and connections, especially the to the relationship between him and Chamisso. Chamisso knew many of the early explorers very well and provided important contacts to Humboldt. He traveled to America 1798-1884 and then lived in Paris until 1827.
In the afternoon we visited the Humboldt-University of Berlin and got a viewing of their teaching collections at the Comparative Zoology department. Professor Dr. Gerhard Scholtz was our enthusiastic guide. The collection was founded in 1884, and includes some 30000 objects which are still used for teaching purposes today.
Radiolaria model designed by Franz Schultze

 For more photos from our day, please click here

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Kupferstifkabinet and Museum fur Naturkunde

 Kupferstifkabinet is part of the Kulturforum in Berlin, here you can see the invitation to the Maria Sibylla - exhibit

The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) is home to a universe of 'art on paper,' from masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli and Albrecht Dürer to Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter. With its wealth of treasures, It is a central place for European artistic ideas and images and it contains works from 1000 years of the history of art, culture, and the media, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection comprises some 550,000 prints and some 110,000 drawings, watercolours, pastels, and oil sketches. The museum also contains illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

We had the opportunity to view the current Maria Sibylla Merian and the Tradition of Flower Illustration – exhibit, which included a great number of plates from the museum’s own collections and completely new for us. George Hoefnagel and several other early 16th to late 18th century flower painters were included in the exhibit totaling to around 150 works on paper and vellum (Merian’s works were on vellum). – No photographs inside this exhibit

We also saw a smaller exhibit about the 17th century Holland’s Golden Age including illustrations from the natural world. That time there was a huge interest in the animal and plant world, in zoology and botany. 
Matthias, our guide was with us to interpret  the “Old Master’s” exhibit part focusing in the German and Dutch Master’s in the 14-18th centuries (The other part of this exhibit is about Italian masters), he also gave us a quick introduction to the “Alchemy”- exhibit (no photos).

We all wanted to re-visit these museum collections before we leave Berlin.

The Berlin  Kulturforum in Berlin, with its museums, concert halls, libraries and institutes, is one of the most important cultural sites of Germany.

 Museum für Naturkunde, Museum of Natural History in Berlin

In the afternoon we rushed to the Museum für Naturkunde where we had a viewing of historical documentation material mainly connected to the animal kingdom. This museum is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity. Its collections comprise over 30 million items covering zoology palaeontology, geology and mineralogy and are of highest scientific and historical importance. We were joined by Dr. Oliver Coleman, the Curator for Crustaceae and Protozoa, he also teaches scientific illustration at the museum and we were taken behind the scenes  to the wet collections (the museum has 30 million specimens stored in the rooms away from the public view). All these specimens are stored in glass jars with 70% alcohol solution (as an example of the size of the collections: one million ‘wet’-specimens are stored in 276,000 jars, taking up 12.6 km of shelf space on three levels). We did have a nice discussion about scientific illustration before we left.
 Dr. Oliver Coleman showing us his drawings for publications

We did return in the evening for an excellent Museum-at-night tour led by Viktor, who is working for his Ph.D. within systematic, biogeography and evolution. We were the only people in the exhibits halls and could closely see Tristan Otto, Archaeopteryx lithographica, Knut and the other celebrities from this museum

 The 150 million year old Berlin specimen of the primeval bird Archaeopteryx lithographica is thought to be the best-known fossil in the world

This was a long day, well worth every minute, for more photos, please click here.