Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden: The Damascus Room in Dresden

Although currently not experiencing its happiest nor most illustrious days, Damascus is without question one of the most important cities in the middle East and over the centuries has served as one of the principle gateways between East and West.

In 1898 the German cultural patron and collector Karl Ernst Osthaus toured the Orient collecting and recording as he went. Among the items he most feverishly searched for was a genuine oriental room interior. In Damascus the German photographer Hermann Burchardt introduced Osthaus to a Turkish Rococo reception room that perfectly fitted his wishes.

The room was bought, shipped backed to Germany … and spent the next 20 years in an attic in Hagen.

Following Karl Ernst Osthaus’ death in 1921 the room was rediscovered and gifted to the Dresden Ethnography Museum … where it was once again put into storage and forgotten about until being rediscovered in 1997.

Obviously in need of extensive repair and renovation after so long in storage, the process is still not complete but the first part of the The Damascus Room will be presented from Friday October 19th 2012 as a central feature of the new permanent exhibition in the Japanisches Palais Dresden.

As one of only a handful of original and complete oriental room interiors in western museums the The Damascus Room in Dresden is an important historical document not just of 19th century orient but also the nature of western society’s fascination with the region and its people.

The Damascus Room in Dresden can be viewed from 19.10.2012 at the Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden during normal opening hours.

Full Details can be found at:

Das Dresdner Damaskuszimmer © Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Foto Jens Thümmler

Das Dresdner Damaskuszimmer © Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden, Foto Jens Thümmler

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