As a Croatian (European) and a former History of Art student, I can remember that most of our art studies were about European art. I was always wondering about comparisons with non-European art. I had obviously never imagined I would find some interesting examples of comparison at the Bode Museum in Berlin.
The only non-European artistic style we studied was ancient Egypt. I was curious about indigenous American art, Asian art, African art… and the only thing I could consider was the influence of so-called “exotic arts” on European late 19th century artists such as Paul Gauguin.
When I first visited Berlin through the New Year’s Eve 2014-2015, I found an exciting surprise at the Museum Island. There was a massive new building in construction, and it was literally the project of rebuilding the old Imperial Palace. According to announcements, the building was supposed to host a new, universal museum of art.
More than 4 years later, the building has got its shape and is due to open later this year. To announce the whole concept and idea of that new museum, one of the old Museums of the Island organised a special temporary exhibition.
Bode Museum Berlin
While the museum itself looks quite theatrical and possibly not inclusive in every way, now it’s the place of change. Museums in Europe used to be meant to be monumental so that visitors feel respect for the arts and the institutions.
The Bode Museum has three gates. Three. Visitors need to open three massive gates in the row to enter the museum. That’s what I mean when I say it doesn’t really fit into the inclusion thing. Most people would never feel welcome inside such a space.
Many cultures, one big world
But now, this museum temporarily presents African art alongside its European art collections. I was delighted to see these gorgeous exhibits that show how diverse our world is.
This is an interesting kind of temporary exhibition museums are yet to adopt regularly. Instead of being installed inside a separated area inside the museum, it is spread along the entire permanent exhibition. And to repeat: the purpose of this exhibition is to announce soon-to-be opened Humboldt Forum, a new museum on the Museuminsel in Berlin.
That in turn, visitors can enjoy visiting the museum’s fundamentals and get something new. Additionally, this African art truly co-lives with the European art.