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The Art of the Enlightenment: Finissage in Beijing, more than 450,000 visitors saw the show
A museum worker stands watch near the paintings on display at the National Museum of China at "The Art of Enlightenment" exhibition in Beijing. The "Art of Enlightenment" collaboratively organized by the National Museum of China and German museums showcased a comprehensive range of visual artworks spanning more than 300 years, such as oil painting, prints, books, garments and furniture. AP Photo/Andy Wong.
BERLIN.- With a joint ceremony on March 25th 2012, Cornelia Pieper, Minister of State in the Foreign Office, and Zhao Shaohua, Deputy Minister of Culture for the People's Republic of China, officially concluded the exhibition "The Art of the Enlightenment" at the National Museum of China. For the past year the exhibition has been on view in Beijing. So far, more than 450,000 visitors have attended.

Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: "The exhibition has shown how the central ideas of the European Enlightenment, which to this day contribute to our cultural identity, have affected art. In addition, it was an offer to enter into a dialog about European art and its forms of expression. Therefore I am particularly pleased about the positive reactions from visitors who have been fascinated by and have thought intensively about the works."

Dirk Syndram, Provisional Director General of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden: "The exhibition was a significant link in the long chain of scientific exchanges and exhibition projects by the three museum institutions in Berlin, Dresden and Munich with their partners in China. This exemplary cooperation made the exhibition possible. It will also foster the continuation of our dialog in a decisive way - already in the near future - with a special exhibition about Xu Jiang at the Lipsiusbau in Dresden. I am convinced that the exhibition will continue to have a positive effect long after it closes."

Klaus Schrenk, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München: "The cooperation of the three major museum institutions in Berlin, Dresden and Munich with the National Museum of China was a unique and challenging event. It has significantly expanded the horizon for the transmission of culture and has certainly set important standards for future collaborations as well. Together with the Mercator Foundation's lecture series 'Enlightenment in Dialog', the exhibition has made a decided contribution to a deeper understanding of modern Europe's cultural foundations at the time of the Enlightenment."

"The Art of the Enlightenment" is an exhibition by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München Collections and the National Museum of China. Jointly curated by the four museum institutions, the focus of the exhibition is on artworks in which the central ideas of the Enlightenment are visible, their influence on the visual arts, and the impact they have had on the artistic revolutions of the 18th century until the present. On 2,700 sq. meters of space they present the full media spectrum of the arts of the Enlightenment - from painted masterpieces, sculptures and graphics to crafts and fashion, even valuable scientific instruments. The Foreign Office played a key role in promoting and supporting the exhibition.

The concluding event on March 25th begins with the forum "Enlightenment and the Culture of Knowledge". This is the last of five forums in the series "Enlightenment in Dialog", which, on the initiative of the German Ambassador in China and with the support of the Chinese Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Mercator Foundation has organized together with the National Museum of China as an academic program to supplement the exhibition. In addition, German and Chinese intellectuals have met in salons and exchanged views on various aspects of the Enlightenment.

The exhibition was also accompanied by an international youth congress, in which youth from China, India, Russia and Germany discussed enlightenment, cultural values and intercultural museum projects. The programs and events of the Goethe Institute in Beijing also enriched the program, among them readings and guided tours through the exhibition. Beyond the finissage, the cultural exchange program will continue in partnership with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin. Aside from the continuing education, it enables the participants to make contacts, develop new ideas for cooperation and so to foster long-term dialog between the cultures.

The initiative "Germany - Land of Ideas" selected the exhibition as one of 365 "Landmarks" in 2012.

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