SPK Magazine reports on the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in its full diversity. It offers an opportunity to speak to the people who address the numerous tasks of the Foundation with creativity and personal commitment and takes positions on issues of cultural policy.
Editorial from the Current Issue
This issue is dedicated to reunification. Not to the anniversary of political reunification of Germany – it would be a little late for that. Rather, we are looking back to our own reunification, to the consolidation of the Prussian Cultural Heritage collections, long divided and scattered across the East and West. On January 1, 1991, the contents of our archives, libraries and museums – housed in the same city and yet so far apart – were reunited. To paraphrase Willy Brandt, former German chancellor and champion of reunification, what had always belonged together was now together again. But it was not only pictures, books, and documents that were reunited. People, too, from East and West, had to become reacquainted. This process, exciting if not always smooth, opened up entirely new perspectives and fundamentally changed the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) after the West Berlin years. It is the inspiration for this special issue of the SPK Magazine. Twenty-five people from such diverse areas of the city as Mitte, Charlottenburg, Dahlem, and Köpenick tell us their stories from a quarter of a century ago. These are stories of upheaval and relocation, of promise and doubt, of assertiveness and compromise. We look back to lofty plans and sober strategies, and to a time that shaped the theoretical architecture of Berlin's cultural landscape. This architecture continues to challenge us today.
This period in the Foundation's history was marked by ambitious projects such as the reconstruction of the Museumsinsel (Museum Island), the comprehensive renovation of the Staatsbibliothek (Berlin State Library) on Unter den Linden, and the construction of the new building for the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) at the Kulturforum. Many people are familiar with these grander examples of reunification, but it was also a time when the files of the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Secret State Archives) were loaded onto a freight train and brought back from Merseburg, when staff at East Berlin's Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Köpenick fought for the survival of their palace, and when art historians and other museum professionals experienced a flood of emotion as they viewed the “other half” of their collections for the first time. This issue contains all these stories, which tell us how we became what we are. What we are presenting here is not an official history of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz; our yearbooks would be a better source for that. These are personal recollections – memories of everyone from the museum director to the storage manager. For many of them, it is the first time that they have spoken of these events. The Berlin-based photographer Werner Amann then took portraits of them for us. This special issue, supported by the Board of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, is also an opportunity to take a look into the engine room of our metaphorical tanker. Who are the people that serve the Foundation, and what drives them? You will meet some employees that we have tracked down in retirement and others that are still with us on this great voyage. There was one person in particular whom we would have greatly liked to interview: Wolf-Dieter Dube, a man who shaped an epoch. But we were too late. Mr. Dube, General Director of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin for many years, died while we were still in production. This issue is dedicated to him.
President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz
Dr. Kristina Heizmann
Head of the President's Office
+49 030 266 411420