European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Mars and Museum. European Museums during the First World War

18-20 September 2014

Berlin, Germany | Technische Universität Berlin and Museum Hamburger Bahnhof


The Conference promoted by Bénédicte Savoy (Technische Universität Berlin), Petra Winter (Zentralarchiv der Staatlichen Museen zu BerlinPreußischer Kulturbesitz), and Christina Kott (Centre Marc Bloch Berlin, Université Panthéon-Assas Paris), will take place in Berlin on September 18-20, 2014.


Today it has almost been forgotten that not only the Second World War but also the First World War constituted a crucial break in the history of European museums. As a matter of fact, the Louvre was almost completely evacuated and the holdings sent to Toulouse and Blois. The Hermitage, in Saint Petersburg, was transformed into a military hospital for several years, and its collections were transported to Moscow. In Berlin, the marvelous coin collection from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum (today’s Bode Museum) was endangered since the Reichsbank, the National Bank of the German Reich, had made a claim on it as a guarantee for its gold. And the British Museum in London lost 11 of its curators to the war. On the Western as well as on the Eastern Front, museum activities were interrupted or disordered for many years due to destruction and evacuations. The acquisition of new works of art was difficult during and especially in the aftermath of the war. However, in many museums the war opened up unexpected opportunities to undertake museum reforms, create new displays, and make architectural changes. The history of European museums during the First World War has not yet been written, or if so then only within the framework of institutional histories of some of the large and middle-sized museums.

The aim of the scheduled conference is to highlight, for the first time, the fate of museum buildings, museum collections, and museum collaborators during the First World War in a transnational and comparative perspective. Structural similarities, as well as national characteristics, in the different museum war histories will be analyzed. The conference aims not only to reflect the transnational turn of museum studies but also intends to promote it by identifying gaps and desiderata for research.


The focus of papers - which may be case studies or comparative studies - should be on one of the following aspects: Actors, Discourses, Art Works and collections.


Please send your submissions (approx. 1000 characters) for a 30-minute lecture as well as some short biographical notes by April 30, 2013 to Bénédicte Savoy (benedicte.savoy(at) and Christina Kott (christina.kott(at) Conference languages are German, English, and French.


» link to the Conference