Landscapes of Sri Lanka - Early Photography in Ceylon

Museum für Asiatische Kunst

From the mid-19th century on, Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, was an exotic destination that many a world traveller yearned to visit.

Starting in the 1860s, a number of photographic studios established themselves on the island, producing artistically ambitious photographs for an illustrious clientele. Among the most famous photographers from this era were William Louis Henry Skeen, Charles Thomas Scowen, as well as the Hamburg-born photographer Alfred William Amandus Plate, whose studio in the late 19th century expanded into a large-scale commercial enterprise that tried to satisfy the public's hunger for postcard images. The images produced by these photographers played a crucial role in spreading, to the far corners of the British Empire and beyond, the myth of Ceylon as an Arcadia-like tropical island.

Now, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Germany, the Museum für Asiatische Kunst is showing an exquisite selection of extremely rare landscape photographs from and of Ceylon. The vintage prints presented in the exhibition not only depict Arcadian landscapes, wildly romantic waterfalls, and exotic beaches but also the encroachment of civilization in the natural landscape, be it through extensive plantations or through settlement, whereby we witness the magnitude of the changes that were wrought to the 'island of dreams' even in the 19th century.

A richly illustrated, bilingual catalogue (English/German) has been released to accompany to the exhibition:
Raffael Dedo Gadebusch (ed.): Landscapes of Sri Lanka - Early Photography in Ceylon / Frühe Fotografie in Ceylon, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-88609-745-6.

Curator: Raffael Dedo Gadebusch
Assistant curator: Karoline Höppner


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Lansstraße 8 / Arnimallee 25
14195 Berlin

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Fri 10:00 - 17:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00

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Last admission and ticket sales 30 minutes before closing time.

Please note that due to preparations for the transfer to the Humboldt Forum the Collection of South, Southeast, and Central Asian Art on the ground floor, that contains, amongst others, the famous 'Turfan' collection as well as art from India, have been closed since 11 January 2016.

Extended opening time Fri 6 to Sun 8 January 2017
Over the weekend of 7–8 January, the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst will open their doors for the last time at their current location, before preparing in readiness for the move to Humboldt Forum. For this reason, the opening hours on this weekend will be extended and special events will be on offer.
Fri 6 January 2017: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sat 7 January 2017: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sun 8 January 2017 : 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Museum Europäischer Kulturen
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