Paths through Changing Times
Museum of East Asian Art - 100 Years

14.10.2006 to 07.01.2007

Special exhibitions room on the museum's top floor

On 8 November, the museum of East Asian Art celebrates the 100th anniversary of its foundation. On this occasion, the special exhibition "Ways and Changes" presents in four sections the forever changing and multi-faceted history of the collection, the fate of which - in the manner of a seismograph - reflects the socio-cultural movements and ruptures of the last hundred years.

The exhibition begins with the origins of the 'Ostasiatische Kunstsammlung' (Collection of East Asian Art) and the compilation of a new collection under the auspices of Otto Kümmel. Its foundation is due to Wilhelm von Bode's endeavour to build up museums of extra-European cultures in Berlin on par with those of European art. This section presents the spectacular acquisitions from the Hayashi Tadamasa collection and illustrates the first displays at the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), important special shows, and significant donations. Special attention is given to the very first presentation of the collection at the former Kunstgewerbemuseum in 1924 which was enthusiastically praised by contemporary critics.

The second section is dedicated to the heyday of the museum and its association of friends, the Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst (Society for East Asian Art), founded in 1926. The society's members succeeded in forging collaborations with the Prussian Academy of Arts, thus realizing exhibitions which, during the 1920s and 1930s, attracted much attention in Germany and abroad. The cosmopolitanism and open-mindedness prevailing in Berlin at the time, together with the 'unique symbiosis of museum, dedicated collectors, and able art dealers' (Leopold Reidemeister) as well as the laudable commitment of patrons, mostly from the wealthy Jewish middle classes, contributed to the museum's comet-like rise.

Demise and Rebuilding
The third section traces the beginnings of the museum's demise during the Third Reich, the removal of the collection at the outbreak of the Second World War, as well as the catastrophic implications during the early post-war period when 90 percent of the museum's holdings were removed by the Soviet army. The documentation follows the re-launch on the Museum Island in the Eastern part of Berlin in the early 1950s, as well as the recommencement in the West, decisively accelerated by Leopold Reidemeister, with no more than around 300 objects from the original collection of the museum, to the first presentation in Dahlem in 1970.

New Splendour
The last section shows outstanding acquisitions of the last three decades, ground-breaking special exhibitions, the re-launch of the German Society for East Asian Art (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst), and the 1992 fusion of the collection which up to this point was divided into two parts, one in the East of the city, one in the West. In October 2000, the Museum of East Asian Art presented its freshly merged collection in a first new display. The exhibition ends with a forecast of the planned move of the collections of extra-European art and culture to the Schlossplatz, the site of the former city palace where the idea of a new Humboldt Forum is to be realised.