since 24 March 2013
Christianity in the Middle Ages

With a newly designed presentation of its Medieval Collection, the MKG is continuing its focus on yet another world religion: this time Christianity. With this redesigning of the Buddhism, Medieval Christianity and, (in 2014),  Islam the MKG aims to foster understanding for the various religions, often felt to be very strange, and to invite a dialogue between them. Works of art offer a very direct and graphic means of making contact with the different beliefs and forms of spirituality, and are at the same time marvellous testimony to the power of the human imagination. In the Christian society of the Middle Ages, religion and art are particularly closely interwoven. In an age when literacy was only the preserve of princes and a few select clerics, works of art take over the task of propagating central contents of the Christian teachings. The something like 100 works on show here – sacred images, art from the church treasuries, liturgical equipment for the altar and devotional objects from the 6th to the early 16th centuries – enable us, with our modern perspective, to connect emotionally to the world view, the beliefs and religious practices of the Christian Middle Ages.
The arrangement of the exhibition follows two threads: the three main rooms are devoted to one each of the central pillars of Christian faith - the incarnation of God as man, the sacrifice of Christ and the resurrection – which remain valid for Christians of all denominations till today. Each of the three rooms contains one central work: the Late Gothic Christ child by Gregor Erhart (1470—1540) illustrates the birth of the Messiah. A rosary bead which opens to reveal a depiction of the crucifixion refers to the death of Christ. And finally, the celebrated Easter Tapestry from the Kloster Lüne nunnery, which can now be shown permanently for the first time, stands for the resurrection of Christ.  In the Gallery, the second main emphasis throws light on the actual practice of religious rites in the liturgy, the veneration of saints and the cult of relics, illustrated with a selection of works. The new presentation given here to the Medieval Christianity Collection was made possible thanks to the generous support of room sponsors: Georg W. Claussen, Helga Krause as well as the Justus Brinckmann Gesellschaft and Freunde des Museums für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

Abb.: Gregor Erhart (um 1470-1540), Christuskind , um 1500, Augsburg, Lindenholz mit originaler Farbfassung H 56,5 cm, Erworben mit Mitteln der Campe’schen Historischen Kunststiftung, Foto: Hiltmann/Rowinski/Torneberg, MKG