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Exhibition “Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day” at five locations in Münster

Idea and basic concept are the result of the Cluster of Excellence’s interdisciplinary research

© Foto: LWL

Under the title “Frieden. Von der Antike bis heute” (Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day), an extraordinary exhibition, in which scientists of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” are significantly involved, can be seen at five locations in Münster from 28 April to 2 September 2018. By means of notable exhibits from international collections, the exhibition illuminates people’s struggle for peace from antiquity to the present day. One key question is why people have always wanted peace but never succeeded in securing it in the long term. LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Archäologisches Museum of the University of Münster, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster, the Diocese Münster and Stadtmuseum Münster are involved in the cooperation. The idea and basic concept of the exhibition project were the result of many years of interdisciplinary research at the Cluster of Excellence on the topic of peace. The research association accompanies the exhibition with the international conference “PEACE. Theories, Images and Strategies from Antiquity to the Present Day”, which will be held from 22 to 25 May 2018.

The interdisciplinary exhibition at five locations is held on the occasion of the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia 370 years ago in Münster and Osnabrück as well as the end of the First World War 100 years ago. The exhibition at LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur is devoted to works depicting either peace or paths leading towards it. Works by renowned artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Eugène Delacroix, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Käthe Kollwitz and Otto Dix exemplify different artistic strategies for conveying the ideal of a world free from aggression. Yet the artworks also encompass the conditions that give rise to peacemaking, notably wars and conflicts. The exhibition shows the significance, but also the changing use, of symbols and metaphors for peace – a kiss, an embrace, a shared meal – as well as images that document its concrete attainment and implementation. Taking significant peace treaties, including the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of Versailles (1919), as a point of departure, the exhibition also focuses on recent history and present-day challenges such as migration and “New Wars”.

Peace in antiquity

In its exhibition entitled “Eirene – Pax. Frieden in der Antike” (Eirene – Pax. Peace in Antiquity), the archaeological museum of the University of Münster focuses on peace in classical antiquity: from the oldest peace agreement in the world between the Hittite Empire and Egypt in 1259 BC and the first bronze-coloured copy of a cult statue of the goddess of peace Eirene from Athens dating to the 4th century BC to numerous coins showing the Roman goddess of peace Pax. The Roman emperors used the symbolism of peace to illustrate their good government and the resulting welfare of the empire. The 3rd century AD shows a striking contradiction: times were more militant than ever before, but the coins depicted the goddess of peace Pax and the peace-giving gods in countless coin series – an inflation of peace.

With its exhibition “Frieden. Wie im Himmel so auf Erden?” (Peace: as in Heaven so on Earth?) the Diocese of Münster is a guest of LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur. The exhibition sheds light on the question as to which conceptions and images of peace and war can be found in Christianity. Around 100 notable and international loans illustrate the change and impact of Christian conceptions of peace from late antiquity to the present day. They include artworks by Veit Stoss, Peter Paul Rubens, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Otto Pankok as well as original documents by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the White Rose resistance movement.

Anniversary celebrations for the Peace of Westphalia in Münster

The exhibition “Ein Grund zum Feiern?” (A Reason to Celebrate?) in Stadtmuseum Münster examines the relationship of the city of Münster to the Peace of Westphalia from 1648 to the present. It focuses particularly on the anniversaries of the Peace in 1748, 1848, 1898 and 1948 and the treaty’s varying evaluations over the centuries. It was in 1898 that the city of Münster first officially commemorated the Peace of Westphalia. Later the National Socialists organised a propaganda exhibition completed as early as 1940 but, however, it was never opened to the public. They misused the peace settlement – so far regarded as a particular low point in German history – for their own political ends. It was only after the Second World War and the week of commemoration marking the settlement’s 300th anniversary in 1948 that the Peace of Westphalia was newly assessed and seen as a peace that unified Europe.
In the exhibition “Picasso – Von den Schrecken des Krieges bis zur Friedenstaube” (Picasso – From the Horrors of War to the Dove of Peace), Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster sets out to show how the Spanish artist grappled with the subjects of war and peace in his work. With some 60 outstanding works, the exhibition demonstrates his creative espousal of the aims of the peace movement, his response to political parties, and his artistic attempts to overcome the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.

Conference about images and strategies of peace

At the conference “PEACE. Theories, Images and Strategies from Antiquity to the Present Day” of the Cluster of Excellence, which will be held from 22 to 25 May 2018 in Münster, internationally renowned researchers will address the question of why people throughout the ages wanted peace, but never succeeded in securing it in the long term. On the basis of many historical examples of European history, they address strategies, behavioural patterns and processes with which people from antiquity to the present day have tried to establish and maintain peace. The researchers focus on how many of the images, rituals and strategies have remained valid over time. At the same time, they show changes typical of their time and their causes. All lectures are open to the public and will be held in the auditorium of LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur at Domplatz 10 in Münster. (asc/vvm)