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Turkish Chamber Given New Exhibition Space at Dresden Royal Palace
Some arms are displayed during 'Tuerckische Cammer' (Turkish Chamber) exhibition at the Dresdner Residenzschloss (Dresden Royal Palace) in Dresden, Germany. Between the 16th and the 19th centuries, the art-loving Electors of Saxony built up a treasure house of precious oriental items. The Electoral Saxon Collection of Oriental Art will re-open on 07 March 2010 with 600 pieces displayed on 750 square metres. EPA/RALF HIRSCHBERGER

DRESDEN.- The word Cammer literally means “chamber” or “small room”, but this collection is anything but small – it is one of the grandest of its kind. The opening of the Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) is also the first step in returning the Rüstkammer (Armoury) to the Dresdner Residenzschloss (Dresden Royal Palace). In this sense, the Türckische Cammer is not a new addition to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections), but part of a historical collection that until now has lacked suitable exhibition space. The permanent exhibition will occupy 750m² on the second floor of the palace and will display some 600 Oriental and Oriental-style pieces. The wide-ranging historical collection offers visitors the opportunity to view exquisite works and gain insight into how outward-looking cultures during the Renaissance and Baroque periods interacted, influenced and fascinated one another.

Over several centuries, Saxon rulers amassed a collection of exotic works of art, consisting of diplomatic gifts, goods looted after battles against the Ottomans but also of well-planned acquisitions, that is unmatched in Germany today and reveals a particularly grand side of Ottoman history. It also traces the Saxon court’s increasing desire to understand other cultures and its fascination with Oriental art, as some of the pieces were produced by major European workshops in an Ottoman style.

The exhibition design, planned by Holger Schuckelt and implemented by the architects Peter Kulka Architektur Dresden GmbH, is a genuine reinvention and is entirely unique in this form.

The main attractions will be the sumptuous Ottoman state tents and the extensive range of parade tack displayed on life-sized Arab stallions carved especially for the exhibition. In conjunction with chain mail, helmets, flags, weapons and robes, these textile treasures depict the fascination of the Saxon electors with Ottoman art and culture. Dresden’s collection of Ottoman and Oriental-style art is one of the biggest in Germany. Its largest piece alone – a 20-metre-long, eight-metre-wide and six-metre-high Ottoman state tent with magnificent appliqués in silk and gold leather – was extensively restored at a cost of over €3.6 million. Since the early 1990s, the Kunstammlungen’s restorers and a large team of freelance staff have been carrying out state-of-the-art restoration and renovation work on the objects in the collection.

History: When the large-scale museum exhibition in the Residenzschloss opens its doors in March 2010, it will be the first time in 70 years that so many of these treasures are on public display. A few of the works were on display in another form in Dresden’s Johanneum until 1942. After the Second World War, most of the pieces were taken to Russia and were returned to Dresden from St. Petersburg in 1958 with other pieces from the Rüstkammer. Since 1959 a small selection of the Türkische Cammer collection has been integrated into the Rüstkammer’s permanent exhibition in the East Hall of the Semperbau am Zwinger.

Exhibition architecture: As part of the reconstruction of the Residenzschloss, an entirely new design of the exhibition space resulted from the Rüstkammer exhibition concept developed in collaboration with the architects at Peter Kulka Architektur Dresden GmbH. To protect the textiles (tents, flags, clothing, pelmets and saddles), the lighting will be kept to an absolute minimum, casting a dusky atmosphere over the entire exhibition. The magnificent works will be displayed against dark-blue walls and illuminated with specially designed lighting. Selected objects will be singled out as focal points. The resulting transition from brightly lit sections glittering with precious stones and gold to mysterious, darkened areas will create a dramatic impact, while the nocturnal atmosphere itself dissolves all sense of spatial boundaries.

In addition to the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the other Rüstkammer exhibition areas and the banquet halls and parade rooms (which still have to be designed), the Türckische Cammer will present the typical courtly elegance of the Dresdner Residenzschloss in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

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March 7, 2010

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