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German-Danish Year of Cultural Friendship 2020
To good neighbours

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Detlev Rünger, German Ambassador to Denmark, Queen Margrethe and Rane Willerslev, director of the National Museum of Denmark, on the way to the opening of the “Tyskland” exhibition
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Detlev Rünger, German Ambassador to Denmark, Queen Margrethe and Rane Willerslev, director of the National Museum of Denmark, on the way to the opening of the “Tyskland” exhibition | Photo: Thorkild Jensen

On Friday in Copenhagen, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod opened the German-Danish Cultural Year of Friendship 2020, which the Goethe-Institut is co-organising. To mark the start of the Year of Friendship, the “Tyskland” exhibition at the National Museum of Denmark tells the history of Germany through significant objects from past centuries

By Miriam Arndts

“Cultural ties between Germany and Denmark go back a long way. In many fields – art, architecture, design – we’ve mutually inspired each other,” said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during his visit to Copenhagen. “We want to build on and continue this shared cultural history.” This will be the motivation for more than 100 events on both sides of the border. “I’d like to already give a big ‘thank you’ to the staff of the German Embassy and the Goethe-Institut here in Copenhagen, who will be the key players in implementing the Year of Friendship on behalf of Germany,” continued Maas.

The president of the Goethe-Institut, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, also sent his greetings in advance: “Especially at a time when European cooperation is under pressure and isolation is taking hold, our close cooperation is a reliable position for our shared responsibility in the European cultural space.”

Daniel Kehlmann during his address in the lobby of the National Museum of Denmark Daniel Kehlmann during his address in the lobby of the National Museum of Denmark | Photo: Thorkild Jensen

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark opens the exhibition “Tyskland”

This year’s “Tyskland” (Danish for Germany) exhibition at the National Museum of Denmark will be the prelude to the many events planned for the 2020 Year of Friendship. The exhibition, conceived by the British Museum, examines the complexity and the highs and lows of German history on the basis of numerous objects from the Renaissance through German reunification to today.

One of the best-known guests at the opening of the exhibition was the German-Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann. In his witty yet thought-provoking address, he described the psyche, humour and opportunism of Germans based on anecdotes from the life and work of famous Germans – from Luther and Bach to Goethe and Kant to Käthe Kollwitz, Thomas Mann and Kehlmann’s great-uncle Friedrich. “German culture is always obsessed with the vision of a world that obeys clear rules, it is always inspired by the dream of a lightness that it never approaches,” said Kehlmann.

The German singer Lary, accompanied by a string quartet of the Danish Chamber Orchestra, entertained the audience at the celebration. Finally, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II officially declared the exhibition open. The exhibition was well attended on its first weekend. Tyskland can be seen until 1 March 2020 at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

The German singer Lary with a string quartet of the Danish Chamber Orchestra The German singer Lary with a string quartet of the Danish Chamber Orchestra | Photo: Thorkild Jensen

A year full of collaboration

The scheduled events during the Year of Friendship include German-Danish co-productions such as a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children” at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen with stage design and costumes by Katrin Nottrodt of Germany. In Aarhus in May 2020 and in Hamburg in September, the exhibition “Always together – mostly happy” will present works by contemporary artists of the young Danish and German art scene with a thematic emphasis on communication and cultural identity.

Next year, Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival will focus on the Danish music scene. And in November 2020, the exhibition “Thorvaldsen & Ludwig” will open at the Glyptothek in Munich on the occasion of the 250th birthday of the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

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