Reconstruction of the Brandenburg Gate Quadriga – Gipsformerei Installs an Open Studio at the German Bundestag

29.10.2020
Gipsformerei

The Art Council of the German Bundestag, the Gipsformerei of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Berlin Monument Authority have joined forces for a common project: from 30 October 2020, all surviving plaster casts of the quadriga will be gathered in an open studio at the Berlin Wall Memorial, where they will be documented, restored and assembled.

The quadriga is Berlin’s most famous sculpture, known around the world as a symbol of a re-united Germany. Less well known are its creator, Johann Gottfried Schadow, founder of the Berlin school of Neoclassicist sculpture, and the eventful history of the sculpture. The sculpture reflects the highs and lows not just of Prussian and German history; since the fall of the Wall, the quadriga and the Brandenburg Gate have become symbols of the will to freedom of people in both the East and the West. It is therefore all the more necessary to preserve and protect an internationally significant cultural artefact of this kind.

Full-Scale Quadriga at the Wall Memorial

At the conclusion of the two-year project, the full-size quadriga will be displayed at the Wall Memorial at the Bundestag, a symbol of unity set against the backdrop of original segments of the Wall, that famous symbol of division. Visitors will be afforded an unmediated experience with the quadriga – which is otherwise stationed high atop the Brandenburg Gate – and the opportunity to get closer to it than ever before.

Eventful History of the Quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate

In 1942, as a precaution, a cast was taken of the quadriga with the exception of the chariot and the standard. From 1957, models were made from these forms, which were used to make reproductions of the quadriga as copper reliefs. Finally, in 1958, following difficult negotiations between East and West, the reconstruction was mounted on the Brandenburg Gate. When people stand before the Brandenburg Gate today, they see the putative “original” of the quadriga. In fact, however, they are seeing a reproduction that has been subjected to further changes since being erected in 1958. For example, the quadriga was considerably damaged during the first New Year’s Eve celebrations after the fall of the Wall.

The reconstruction from the 1942 historical models has relativised the term “original”. The plaster models restored by the Gipsformerei are closer to Schadow’s original 1793 work than the version of the quadriga atop the Brandenburg Gate today, which was only recreated by the Noack sculpture foundry in 1957–58, after the ravages of the war. In this way, the original state of the quadriga was secured after more than 225 years of eventful history.

Witnessing the Reconstruction Process at the Open Studio

Until now the plaster models have been in various states of preservation at different storage facilities of the Berlin Monument Authority. The existing models will now be gathered in the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus in an open studio specially established for the purpose by the Bundestag. A broad audience will be able to witness the reconstruction process at the open studio. Once the restoration is finished, the plaster casts will be available for further work on the quadriga. In addition, a 3D scan will be produced that will also represent a kind of digital backup of the quadriga.

Opening hours

  • Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • No restoration work on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays
  • Free entry

In addition, an exhibition with historical photographs from the history of the quadriga will be presented in the space. The project is planned to last two years. It begins on 30 October 2020.

Address

Mauer-Mahnmal im Deutschen Bundestag
Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus
Schiffbauerdamm (enter from the Spree side)
10117 Berlin

Please note that due to COVID-19 the Wall Memorial at the German Bundestag is temporarily closed from 1 to (at least) 30 November 2020. Further information: www.bundestag.de/mauermahnmal.