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

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.

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