Donatello and THE LOST MUSEUM
Research, Memories, and Rediscoveries

17 / 18 September 2015
International symposium at the Bode-Museum, Museumsinsel Berlin

Outside Florence, the Bode-Museum in Berlin is one of the few places where the art of Donatello (ca. 1386-1466), the most important sculptor of the Florentine Renaissance before Michelangelo, is so thoroughly represented. Besides acclaimed works in marble, terracotta, and bronze by the artist’s own hands, the Sculpture Collection of the Berlin Museums is rich in less studied works, which, if not all autograph, at least reflect Donatello’s inventions. This abundance is chiefly due to the tireless activity of Wilhelm von Bode (1845-1929), the great curator and later director of the Berlin Museums in whose honor the Bode-Museum is named. When Bode was alive, Berlin was an undisputed centre of Donatello’s scholarship. Starting in 1933, this pre-eminence was lost: the Nazi era, WWII, and the post-war era with the division of Berlin into East and West cast a shadow of oblivion on many of the relevant works in the collection. Some of them were caught in fires in May 1945, including acclaimed masterpieces of the artist; other works were put in storage where too few specialists came to study them. The moment has come to shed new light on this collection as an ensemble as well as to highlight the qualities of many works that have been neglected so far. An international symposium, with contributions from renowned Donatello specialists, seems a fitting way to do so.

It is particularly relevant to combine this re-evaluation of the place of Donatello in the Berlin Museums with a scholarly discussion around the exhibition, organized by the Bode-Museum, that runs until 27 September 2015: “The Lost Museum. The Berlin Sculpture and Painting Collections 70 Years after World War II.” While one section of the exhibition is dedicated to Donatello, the problems addressed by the symposium go far beyond just this artist’s case: the dispersal of thousands of works of art from 1945 onwards, restitutions in the 1950s, and severe damage to some works raise complex issues of memory, restoration, and identity that will be at the centre of the talks. It is even hoped that some of the works, presumed lost for seven decades, will resurface one day.

The symposium is organized by Julien Chapuis, deputy director of the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst and curator of the exhibition “The Lost Museum,” and Neville Rowley, research fellow at the Bode-Museum and author of a forthcoming online catalogue of the works by Donatello in the Berlin Museums collection.


Konstantin Akinsha, Universität Erfurt

Anna Aponasenko, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Francesco Caglioti, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

Laura Cavazzini, Università degli Studi di Trento

Julien Chapuis, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Regine Dehnel, Kulturstiftung der Länder, Berlin

Aldo Galli, Università degli Studi di Trento

Giancarlo Gentilini, Università degli Studi di Perugia

Volker Kran, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Philippe Malgouyres, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Guillaume Nicoud, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris

Vasily Rastorguev, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Neville Rowley, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bénédicte Savoy, Technische Universität Berlin

Petra Winter, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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