{Germany} A State Visit at Schönhausen Palace

June 7, 2016


100 Museums Challenge: Museums No.71

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Last Friday, I was invited to take part in a Tweetup at Schönhausen Palace in Berlin Pankow, to view the current special exhibition ‘Palaces for the State Visitor: State Visits in the Divided Germany’. Starting with the state visits of Queen Elizabeth II to Brühl, near Bonn – the former capital of West Germany – in 1965, and Hungarian General Secretary János Kádár to East Berlin in 1966, the exhibition tells the story of two opposing political systems, and two views of self perception and self presentation. After WW II, both German states vied for international recognition and state visits were an effective means of presenting themselves internationally. In East Berlin, Schönhausen Palace took centre stage for these diplomatic efforts, whilst in Brühl, it was Augustburg Palace – where the exhibition will travel to after it closes in Berlin.

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Schönhausen Palace started life as a Dutch style manor in the later 17th century, but was later remodelled as a palace. Over the second half of the 18th century, it served as a summer residence to the Prussian royal family. After that it was mostly used to store furniture and paintings, until the end of the monarchy in 1920. It was then opened to the public for exhibitions and during the National Socialist period, once again used to store artworks, this time so called ‘degenerate art’ confiscated by the Nazi government. After World War II, the palace initially served as the official seat of the German Democratic Republic’s president, Wilhelm Pieck, until his death in 1960, after which it was converted in to the GDR government’s official state guest house. Which takes us up to the exhibition we had come to see, so let me show you around the palace a little:

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As we entered Schönhausen Palace, the Tweetup briefly stalled as everyone stopped to photograph the lavish chandelier and beautiful stairwell!

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Crowds of cheering people lined the streets to welcome state visitors, both in East and West Germany. The difference? In East Berlin, the waving crowds were organised!

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On the left: uniform of a corporal of the National People’s Army “Friedrich Engels” Honor Guard Regiment. On the right: dress uniform of the Bundeswehr Guard Battalion

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Flags handed out for Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Germany in May 1965.

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Details of coat and tails for a Head of Protocol from the Federal Republic, 1967

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The Palace’s richly stuccoed ballroom is the only surviving Rococo space in Berlin preserved in its original form!

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The fireplace room, furnished in Neo-Rococo style. Apparently the company that made these usually produced furniture for Ikea…

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Wilhelm Pieck’s former stomping grounds – I wouldn’t mind an office like this!

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Decorating the man’s bedroom – the mix of modern furniture and antiques was typical of 1960s interior design.

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And here’s the lady’s bedroom. Indira Ghandi and Queen Beatrix slept here, amongst others. Queen Beatrix was the last to stay here – after reunification in 1991!

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This purple ensuite bathroom for the lady’s bedroom would have been perfect for #MuseumRainbow! This was the most popular photo I shared during the Tweetup, which made me laugh.

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Dinner is served! Half of the table is set as in East Germany at Schönhausen Palace, the other as in West Germany at Augustusburg Palace.

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What’s on the menu? Rabbit broth, roast lamb, and baked vanilla ice cream…

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This ‘Protokollsofa’ was where the first photos with any state guests would be taken. The large mirror behind it cause journalists a bit of a headache, due to its reflections!

So, I hope you enjoyed the little tour around Schönhausen Palace. If you find yourself in Berlin before 3 July, you should go an check it out in person. After that, it travels over to Brühl and will be showing at Augustburg Palace from 31st July until 1st November 2016. The exhibition at Schönhausen Palace is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 6pm. Admission is 6 Euros, with concessions and family tickets available. All infos and further details on the palace website. The text panels are in English as well as German.

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One Response to “{Germany} A State Visit at Schönhausen Palace”

  1. SPSGmuseum Says:

    Dear Jenni,
    it was a pleasure to have you join us – thank you for this review & all the fabolous pictures! Hope you’ll like to join in again on future occasions.
    Kind regards,
    Gesine / SPSGmuseum Team


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