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Using Culture as Ambassador to the U.S.

Chancellor Schröder will open an exhibition on Baroque Dresden in Mississippi during his U.S. visit. Germany hopes culture will help spruce up its image in the United States.


Germany bets on culture: "The Glory of Baroque Dresden" in Mississippi

Until Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's abrupt "no" to the Iraq war, Germany and the United States had been considered close partners. Now the two countries are on speaking terms again, and Gerhard Schröder has travelled to the United States, where he is meeting with President George Bush in the White House for the first time in two years. And he is employing a tool that's supposed to help Germany shine in the U.S.: culture.

While an exhibition from New York's Museum of Modern Art is drawing crowds in Berlin, "The Glory of Baroque Dresden" at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion in Jackson is expected to be the German counterpart. Schröder himself is going to open the Saxon exhibition.

Paintings, jewelry, Meissen porcelain, furniture, suits of armor and other objects from the time of August the Strong (1670-1733) and his son August III, including the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond, will be on show. The two Saxon electors and kings of Poland transformed Dresden in the 17th and 18th centuries into "Florence on the Elbe," a world-renowned art metropolis.

Goodwill in Jackson


The Porcelain Collection in Dresden

"The Glory of Baroque Dresden" is the first exhibition of Dresden art in North America in 25 years and the first exhibition from Dresden since the unification of West and East Germany in 1990. It's not just an event for Mississippi but for all of America, people are saying in Jackson.

Jackson has been the setting for three important exhibitions of European art in the past eight years. Treasures from St. Petersburg's palaces were shown in 1996 and "The Splendors of Versailles" was exhibited there in 1998. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain went to Jackson in March 2001 for "The Majesty of Spain," which showcased artworks from the Prado Museum in Madrid. "The Glory of Baroque Dresden" will be open for the public from March 1 to September 6, 2004.

Political aims

Schröder's appearance at the exhibition underlines the political significance of the show. His visit is vastly important for U.S.-German relations, said George Everett, a professor of German at the University of Mississippi. "Many fences need to be repaired," he said.

The chancellor's four-hour stay at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion was deliberate, according to State Secretary for Culture Christina Weiss. "Last year, during the German-American dispute over the Iraq war -- which was also an ideological conflict -- we sensed that we didn't know enough about each other anymore," Weiss said in a newspaper interview recently.

Germans and Americans need to do serious work on the image they have of each other, she added. New York, for example, had become the city for art, which Berlin could have become had it not been for the Nazis. "Bringing such correlations to people's attention is the job of culture," Weiss said.

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