The exhibition is being shown as part of the Russia-Germany sister cities programme, with active cooperation between the two nations’ leading museum and research centres.
Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel also visited the Against the Light exhibition, which showcases the best works by 20th century German artists.
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Speech following tour of Bronze Age: Europe without Borders exhibition at Hermitage Museum
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank Ms Federal Chancellor for visiting the new State Hermitage facilities. I personally find them very interesting; I am here for the first time.
We are used to seeing the Hermitage and perceiving it as something classical, exhibiting classical works of European art. But here, the Hermitage is showing us its new dimensions and of course, it was very interesting to see the joint exhibition by Russian and German partners and museum experts.
The Bronze Age spanned the fourth through first centuries BC. This was, in essence, a time of European protoculture and prehistory. The exhibition did a great job of representing that era and our common roots.
The exhibition’s slogan is Europe without Borders. But in the Bronze Age there probably were no borders in the modern sense of the word, even though if there were some sort of borders between peoples. However, they certainly didn’t have visas. You could say that Europe those days had a visa-free regime.
What’s particularly pleasing is that German and Russian experts have been working together for many years and offering us the opportunity to learn about unique works of art from a past that unites us all.
And they are doing this entirely outside the context of our modern politics. Indeed, such experts’ depoliticised approach gives us the opportunity today to learn about the unique works of the past.
I think we should thank them and look to them as an example, since if we proceed this way at a political level, then we truly won’t have any limitations for our development and many of the critical issues we inherited from the past will not be perceived with so much emotion and negativity.
Indeed, what difference does it make to an average individual where these displaced valuables can be seen – in Berlin, St Petersburg, Moscow or Turkey? And perhaps then, the Turks will not demand Schliemann’s artefacts, the Germans will not demand that we return displaced valuables, and we will not demand that somebody else finds and returns Russian relics.
On the contrary, when there is no fear of these demands, perhaps those who are hiding all these artefacts in their vaults will bring them out into the light and show them to the public, to the people. People will be happy, and this will unite all of us.
Thank you very much.