A History Of Germany At British Museum
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Ask most Brits about German history and there will be references to two world wars and football, but this exhibition goes back much further to chart a 600 year history of Germany from the Holy Roman Empire to today. Covering the break down of the Holy Roman empire, the convergence of city states into Prussia, the Napoleonic invasion, the world wars and the post-war manufacturing boom in one exhibition is a big task.
It starts downstairs and outside the exhibition with the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, plus there's a section of the Berlin wall by the entrance to lead visitors in. Inside it's jam packed with more fascinating artefacts, including an exquisitely ornate clock in the shape of a galleon, designed to fire its cannons and roll across the table on the hour.
Literature, religion and art are represented by Martin Luther's translation of the bible, detailed limewood carvings of the four evangelists and woodcuts by Durer — including a porcelain rhinoceros inspired by one of his works.
There are powerful items relating to the wars including Otto Dix's horrific prints depicting the brutality of war and cut out figures of Hitler and his army — designed as playthings for children. However, the most powerful is the gate from Buchenwald concentration camp. It's impossible not to stop and pause for reflection upon seeing it.
This exhibition is a sprint through German history and the wealth of excellent artefacts on display makes it a highly engaging exhibition. This is a massive departure from the British Museum's usual style of choosing a very specific area and focusing on it, but we enjoyed it and would like to see more exhibitions in this style.
Germany: Memories of a Nation is on at British Museum until 25 January. Tickets for adults are £10, concessions available.
Last Updated 19 October 2014