Germany: memories of a nation – British Museum

Germany: memories of a nation is another exhibition at the British Museum; I visited after I went to see the museum’s exhibition on China. The exhibition is billed as a 600-year history in objects, but it is more than that: each object reveals something about the culture and history of the nation that has only existed in its current form since the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago. Germany has an incredibly complex political history – it used to be divided into regions under the umbrella of the Holy Roman Empire, and was not unified until 1870, after which two World Wars and the division between East and West further shaped the Germany we know today.

The exhibition began with a superb display of the contrast between England and Germany during the eighteenth century. When England was developing a standardised system of coinage – represented by the single coin bearing an image of Queen Anne – Germany had several different currencies and monetary systems. I was fascinated by the objects on display, including art by Dürer and Holbein, a beautiful and ornate model of a ship holding several Electors and the Holy Roman Emperor, and an amazing Bauhaus cradle. More poignantly, a (replica) gate from a World War II concentration camp was displayed, and no exhibition inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall would be complete without a piece of the Wall itself. I really enjoyed this exhibition – it tells a fascinating and complex story through the medium of objects, and there should be something here to appeal to everybody.