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Peering Through History: Colonial Shadows in Prussian Palaces

Ausstellungsansicht: Schlösser. Preußen. Kolonial. Biografien und Sammlungen im Fokus © SPSG / Robert Schittko

Ever walked through Germany’s historic Prussian palaces and felt the weight of hidden stories? The Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG) is about to shed light on some lesser-known facets of Germany’s colonial history.

Echoes from the Past

The opulent palaces and sprawling gardens once owned by the Hohenzollern dynasty aren’t just architectural wonders. They’re like history books, and they have some stories to tell. Like an 18th-century portrait of a young Black boy, possibly Fredrick Ludwig. His dad? Brought to the Berlin royal court via the slave trade. Or consider the glass beads from Peacock Island, once traded for slaves and colonial items. This isn’t just history; it’s a part of the foundation of where we stand today.

Beyond the Exhibits

The SPSG‘s exhibition at Charlottenburg Palace isn’t just a static display. It’s a deep dive into Germany’s longer colonial journey, right from its pre-colonial ties, through to its colonial peak in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and even the remnants of those times that linger today.

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Ever heard of rewriting stories? That’s what this special exhibition does. It attempts to re-tell the stories of people forcibly taken to Berlin and Potsdam. Some found ways to blend in, while others fought against their circumstances. There’s also a section on non-European artifacts. For long, they’ve been looked at through a purely European lens. Not anymore! This exhibition seeks to reconnect these works with their original essence and narratives.

More to Explore

If you’re left wanting more after the main exhibit, don’t fret! A tour awaits through the rooms of the Old Palace. Spot traces of colonial history in the palace’s permanent displays. Fun fact: This exhibition aligns with 2023’s theme of “Elector – Emperor – Colonies.” So, it’s clear: SPSG isn’t done with exploring this topic. They’re just getting started.

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