The value of education is obviously no longer self-evident. The sentences of the culture superiors at the opening of the new museum of the Berlin State Library Unter den Linden sounded a little like appeasement, which already emphasizes the unfinished in the name "Stabi Kulturwerk".
Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth spoke of an "opening that is an opening", as if this could also conceal a closing and locking away.
According to the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, the temple of books will certainly “further network” as if it weren’t enough on its own.
And the General Director of the State Library, Achim Bonte, also named “low-threshold, participatory knowledge transfer” as a goal.
Great, got it.
But shouldn't it be emphasized
that the pieces shown here are world-class?
That they sparkle in their own right, that they blow our minds, hopefully even overwhelm us, if we just open our eyes?
A light sweater is recommended
Europe correspondent for the feuilleton in Berlin.
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The first spatial impression of the museum designed by Astrid Bornheim and dko-Architekten more than ten years ago is severe, very severe: the exhibition furniture is completely black.
In the gloomy twilight, guided by indirect lighting at the foot of the archive cabinets, progress is made.
Left: more than three hundred softly illuminated books, manuscripts, maps, globes, from early book printings to a signed photograph of the Comedian Harmonists;
each object may only get fifty lux.
On the right: five stations on the history of the State Library since the "Great Elector" Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg made the "Electoral Library of Cölln an der Spree" accessible to a strictly selected public in 1661.
Beyond the collection, further left,
Photochromatic portraits of the famous of their respective epoch form another axis of illumination.
You have to overcome the coldness of the concept first.
A light sweater is also recommended when the temperature is twenty degrees.
But the longer you look, the more exciting it gets.
Because just as human knowledge has accumulated and deepened in this gigantic building, the complexity of the exhibition also increases: from a centuries-old past to the present of an ever more finely ramified specialization;
from airily placed showcases to smaller arrangements, whose showpieces are only the beginning.
Huge drawers slumber underneath, which you can open to discover even more.
Everything is solid and safe behind glass.
At some point you will understand what “participatory” means.
Anyone who does not have enough with a single page of the Ottoman mirror of princes from 1698, a look at an illustrated shipbuilding manual from the eighteenth century or a children's war book from 1915 can use the QR code to leaf through the entire work digitally on their smartphone.
Carola Pohlmann, head of the children's and young people's book department, describes her coordination work with the curatorial team since 2016 as "one of the nicest tasks I've ever taken on," which has now been completed.
Around 360 works on a thousand square meters represent the order and classification achievement of a world library that has finally become visible.
“Get busy with the original!” is how Uli Lechtleitner from the architectural association Bürozentral, who has overseen the implementation of the concept in recent years, describes the core idea of the Stabi Kulturwerk.
The pieces are to be exchanged every three months for reasons of conservation.
And the adjoining area for temporary exhibitions will open on August 17 with a show on ETA Hoffmann's topicality.
At the end of the central axis there is a passage down into the treasury: Here lies one of the world's most beautiful copies of the Gutenberg Bible (Mainz 1454/55) with exquisite pictorial decoration, the origin of which is explained one floor up in a beautiful digital presentation.
The Nibelungenlied, leaves from Bach's B minor Mass, the Persian "Book of Kings" from Isfahan (1605) with its breathtaking miniatures and the second edition of "Struwwelpeter" also rest here.
By the way, the hairy guy with the long fingernails wasn't on the cover before.
In 1846, the author Heinrich Hoffmann gave his work the pomadic title: "Funny stories and funny pictures".
Real discoveries await in the Stabi Kulturwerk.