Dresden 2006 / 2007 – A City on the Move
Dresden Celebrates 800-year Jubilee in 2006 / Opening of the Historical Green Vault / Extensive Jubilee Programme / 2007 Year of Architecture
Dresden is a city which gains at least one new historical attraction each year. What sounds so paradox, is actually quite simple to explain: The Saxon capital continues to develop without respite and is already once more to be counted among the most beautiful cities in Europe.
This naturally means recovering the buildings lost through the destruction of the Second World War, but equally remaining open to new ideas and giving modern architecture space to evolve. And last but not least, countless events, initiatives and cultural projects fill the city with life.
A great milestone was reached on 30th October 2005: The Dresden Frauenkirche was reconsecrated after eleven years of rebuilding. The first Baroque church of the new millennium is again dominating the Dresden skyline – or as formulated by the English author Christopher Somerville: “I found myself drawn to the Frauenkirche - the Church of Our Lady - as if to the most charismatic person in a crowded room.” (Daily Telegraph 22.10.2005). The Protestant Frauenkirche not only enriches the religious life of the city with its prayers and services, but also represents the currently most-visited tourist attraction and an important focus for Dresden's musical traditions.
Above all the Cantatas by J.S.Bach and great oratorios, from Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn to more contemporary composers, are highlights of a comprehensive concert programme (www.frauenkirche-dresden.org).The history of the Dresden Frauenkirche and the story of its rebuilding are told by an impressive exhibition opened in October 2005 and scheduled to run until 2010 on the second floor of the Baroque Landhaus.
As part of the preparations for the city jubilee, the new Dresden Municipal Gallery (www.galerie-dresden.de) already moved into its first-floor rooms in July 2005.
The building is expected to be completed on 1st December 2006 with the opening of the new permanent exhibitions of the Dresden City Museum (http://stadtmuseum.dresden.de). Just in time for the 800-year city jubilee, the new permanent exhibitions offer a complete overview of the history of Dresden.
True to the motto “Time for Dresden”, the Saxon capital will be offering an abundance of events, festivals and exhibitions throughout the whole year (www.dresden.de/800).
The re-opened Festival Hall in Dresden Hellerau
September 9th marks even the reopening of the historic Festival Hall built in 1913 by Heinrich von Tessenow in Dresden Hellerau, Germany’s first garden city. It is the main venue of the European Centre of Arts, William Forsythe’s Ballet Company and other creative artists. (www.kunstforumhellerau.de)
With the opening of the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe (Historical Green Vault) in the Dresden Royal Palace, Dresden will be able to boast yet another historical sight of world renown from 15th September 2006. The unique treasure chamber of the Saxon electors and kings owes its splendour above all to August II, “Augustus the Strong” (1670-1733).
He demonstrated his strength not only physically, but also in his determination to develop Dresden into one of the most important Baroque royal capitals in Europe.
Augustus the Strong is also considered as one of the first museologists of modern times: He classified his collections and opened his treasure chamber to the public, presenting the works in green-painted vaulted rooms on the ground floor of the royal palace.
The original rooms of the treasure chamber have been restored to recreate the atmosphere in which Augustus the Strong himself once proudly presented his collection to his guests: An integral Baroque work of art with the intention of leaving visitors breathless in the presence of such magnificence.
From September 2006, over 3,000 masterpieces of the jeweller's and goldsmith's art, treasures in amber and ivory, and vessels studded with precious stones can be admired in a uniquely conceived exhibition in the Historical Green Vault.
The Oriental Gallery forms part of the Porcelain Collection
On 15th October 2006, only a month after the reopening of the Historic Green Vault at the Dresden Royal Palace, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden has taken centre stage with the world-famous Porcelain Collection in the Zwinger and the unveiling of the magnificent new exhibition space for the Oriental Gallery. The American architect Peter Marino was commissioned for the presentation of the additional 700 Asian artworks. Peter Marino’s design concepts for the exhibition of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, with an additional 25 per cent of exhibition space in the Zwinger marks a new chapter in the long tradition of the Porcelain Collection - with more than 20.000 pieces the biggest in the world – in preparation of the 300th anniversary of the creation of the European porcelain in Dresden which will be celebrated from 2008 to 2010.
Another spectacular temporary exhibition is “From Monet to Mondrian” Modern Masterworks from Private Collections of Dresden in the First Half of the Twentieth Century from September 16th, 2006 through January 14th, 2007 in Dresden’s Lipsius Exhibition Hall at the Bruehl Terrace. This exhibition will be followed in the same place by a monographic show from mid May to August 2007 about the world famous contemporary artist Gerhard Richter in occasion of his 75th birthday. (www.skd-dresden.de)
From 12th October 2006 through 22nd June 2007, the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden will present “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race”, the current special exhibition by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. It examines the National Socialist programs on racial hygiene and “euthanasia” from 1933 through 1945. (www.dhmd.de)
The Dresden city centre will also be changing its appearance over the course of 2006. The diamond of the Frauenkirche is to be placed back in its original setting: Dresden's historical heart is currently being reborn around the Neumarkt, partly with old facades, partly with discreetly modern frontage. The latest status of the building work is documented by a live webcam mounted on the Kulturpalast cultural centre (www.dresden.de/neumarkt).
On 22nd September for example, the Quartier QF, initiated by the Italian entrepreneur Arturo Prisco and Dresden architect Kai von Döring, has opened its doors (www.q-f.info). Three floors of restaurants, boutiques, shops and a Five-Star Boutique Hotel are to tempt visitors with typically Saxon and Italian products. Opposite, the Steigenberger hotel group has already reopened the Hotel de Saxe (www.desaxe-dresden.steigenberger.de) in April 2006 – after a break of 117 years. At the end of the 19th century, the traditional hotel in which Clara Schumann once performed her husband Robert's piano concerto for the first time was forced to make way for a post office building.
Immediately alongside the reconstructed Coselpalais, and opposite the apse of the Frauenkirche, building work is progressing on the Quartier II by the Frauenkirche, which constitutes for the most part reconstructions of magnificent Baroque townhouses, insofar as historical drawings and documentation were able to serve as source material. Restaurants offering Saxon and international cuisine are here to accompany small shops offering high-quality tourist products and souvenirs. The opening is planned for Autumn 2006. (www.vvkzudresden.de)
The redesigned Postplatz square, on the other hand, will make no attempts to hide its modern face. The new central stopping point for the Dresden public transport system is based on the drafts of the renowned architect Joachim Schürmann, and is just a first step in the development of a modern corner of Dresden at the western edge of the city centre.
An interesting combination of old and new architecture is the Maritim Congress Hotel, opened in May 2006 in the completely restored storage house by Hans Erlwein, which was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in Germany. It contrasts the International Convention Centre Dresden, built in 2004. (www.dresden-congresscenter.de)
Similarly dedicated to modernity is the project for redesigning of the main Dresden railway station to the plans of the British star architect Sir Norman Foster, which should be more or less completed at the end of the jubilee year. The railway station is to receive a new, white membrane roof comprising an extremely durable, rubber-like material. Depending on the intensity of the sun, it allows the daylight to shine through in different tones or else reflects it from its outer skin. Directly above the ironwork arches, this tent-like canopy parts to permit a direct view of the skies through the narrow openings. Just in front of the main station and next to the Globe Cube House the Steigenberger Group is building the new Intercity Hotel Dresden which is going to be opened beginning of 2008.
Another spectacular architectural project is to be found to the north of the city centre. Daniel Libeskind and Hans-Günter Merz provided the plans for redesigning of the Military History Museum. The German Army is spending 35 million euros to develop the complex, which is protected under a monument preservation order, as the central army museum in Germany. The changes in the architecture are to go hand in hand with changes in the overall concept of the permanent exhibitions, which are to be shown in a neighbouring industrial hall during the building work from May 2004 to the end of 2008. War stands for violence, death, hatred, fear and human behaviour in extreme situations. The museum is already to address this anthropological aspect of the military in its foyer. A tour will provide an overview of German military history, taking up the previously targeted fundamental issues in historical, technical and artistic contexts. The ambivalent meaning of military history is also expressed in Libeskind's architecture: A glass wedge breaks out of the Classicist facade of the museum building.
2007 will be as well a year of many festivals and festivities. It starts with the most glamorous Semperopernball (www.semperopernball.de) on 19th January when the whole opera house turns into a stage for international stars and regional celebrities.
From 9th to 13th May 2007 Dresden will be again the capital of Dixiland in Europe. Then Dresden will celebrate the 37th International Dixieland festival (www.dixieland.de) and more than 500.000 visitors will enjoy swing, jazz and Dixie in the streets or on the historic steam boats of the oldest and biggest paddle steamer fleet in the world.
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