State Museum

When Art Goes Political

Marion Ackermann DPA
Incoming museum curator Marion Ackermann is taking the leap from .
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Dresden has one of Germany’s most prominent state art collections, famous for Baroque masters in particular.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Marion Ackermann will take the helm in Dresden on November 1, 2016.
    • Dresden has witnessed right-wing populist demonstrations over the past two years, and was recently the target of right-wing terrorism.
    • The city’s collections are some of the most internationally diverse in Germany.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Right now, the East German city of Dresden is both a hub of art and culture, and a hotbed of xenophobia. That makes for a difficult start for the Saxony State Art Collections’ new curator, Marion Ackermann, and an uncertain future for the city’s 15 internationally renowned museums.

The capital of Saxony, only about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Czech border, is famous for its architectural treasures such as the Baroque Church of Our Lady, or Frauenkirche, that was rebuilt in the city center after World War II. The city’s many museums boast masterpieces such as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and the Gerhard Richter archive.

Yet it has also been the birthplace of the xenophobic Pegida movement. Pegida regularly calls demonstrations to protest the Germany’s alleged Islamization through the influx of Muslim refugees from the Middle East.

A fortnight ago, two improvised explosive devices went off in a Dresden mosque and in an international conference center. No one was injured but there was considerable financial damage.

Ms. Ackermann said when she takes the helm at Dresden’s State Art Collections in November, she wants to boost public identification with the museums. “I want to work with open laboratories in the city,” she said. “My goal is participation by many different strata of society.”

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