Tales Uniting Cultures

The German and Arab cultures get closer at the Neues Museum Berlin

August 06th, 2019
Gloria Algarotti, News from Berlin
20190806_Tales Uniting Cultures.jpg

A temporary exhibition at the New Museum, on the Berliner Museum Island, has been taking place from April 18th until August 18th 2019 showcasing differences and similarities between narrative traditions of Germany and Arab countries.

“Cinderella, Sinbad & Sinhue. Arab-German Storytelling Traditions” is the name of the event, a cooperation between the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities. It was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and curated by Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper, Anke Weber and Sarah Wessel.

The exhibition is held in three languages (German, Arabic and English) and presents hundreds of objects from the collections of the Berlin Museums. It traces back over 4,000 years of cultural history in two different geographical areas trying to reduce the distance and differences between them. Guided tours as well as lectures have been organised throughout the whole exhibition period.

Starting from the ancient Egyptian papyruses, continuing with the Arabian Nights and the German tales of the Brothers Grimm and further on until contemporary comics and pop-up books the exhibition examines literary and narrative traditions from the past to the present.
It presents the first written traditions of stories and fairy tales with examples from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It investigates how they were adapted and interpreted in time and space and points out the shared elements between Arab and German storytelling traditions. The manner in which stories were adapted and interpreted reveals how ideas are passed on across time and space and also the diverse processes of cultural exchange between the Arab and German cultures.

Similarities, rather than differences, are on focus in this event. Tales and narratives are worldwide-spread cultural practices. They wave between cultures, are malleable, evolve and change according to the surrounding context. They are in this sense a transcultural heritage, and can shed light on mutual influences, shared ideas and cultural transfer between different countries and people.

“In a time when social debates are increasingly marked by differentiation, it is all the more important that we apply ourselves to exploring the diverse, historically evolved commonalities among different cultures and to making them accessible to an international public”. This the official presentation of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The exhibition has welcomed over thousands of visitors from all over the world and has been claimed as successful by its curators.


News from Berlin