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Exhibition "The Medici"

Dr. Rosendahl, curator of the exhibition "The Medici", Georg Ziereis and Christian Ziereis (from l. to r.) in the Medici exhibition

You have never seen the Medici like that!

What does Mannheim have to do with the Medici? And do not mummies only exist in Egypt? How did a Medici pope shave and did the Medici already have black accounts? All this is explained to us in an exciting interview by Dr. Wilfried Rosendahl, curator of the exhibition "The Medici - People, Power and Passion" who lets us have a peak behind the curtains of the exhibition.

But what is shown before the curtains is also worth a visit. You stroll through generously decorated rooms, enjoy the calm and pleasant atmosphere and after a few moments are already lost in the Florence of the end of the Middle Ages. The Medici dynasty has shaped Italy and Europe for centuries, since they were economic geniuses, patrons of the arts, churchmen and power seekers par excellence. In the extensive exhibition in the Reiss-Engelhorn museums in Mannheim the Medici are now also presented from their human side:  Starting with the portraits of the protagonists of this colourful dynasty, the human behind those immaculately painted faces is presented. Strengths and weaknesses, sicknesses and afflictions, pomp and everyday life - you have never seen the Medici like this! But not only the Medici alone, but also their influence is made obvious, for example in urban development or science. The keyword here: Galileo Galilei...

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

Especially exciting for many book lovers is the hourbook of Lorenzo de' Medici, which Lorenzo the Magnificent had comissioned for his daughter Luisa. It reflects the magnificence and wealth of a family, who shaped the arts, the science and even the economy of Italy for centuries.

Interview With Curator Dr. Rosendahl

Here now the interview we were able to have with the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Rosendahl

Christian Ziereis: Can you tell us a few numbers concerning the size of the exhibition?

Dr. Rosendahl: We gathered 200 exhibits on an area of 1,500 square meters. The diversity and depth of the exhibition can probably be best explained by the fact that we are cooperating with about 50 reknown lenders. Amongst those are of course the most famous museums of Florence: the Uffizi Gallery, the Bargello, the Galleria Palatina, the Museo degli Argenti and more. And of course the two libraries of the city, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana and the Biblioteca Riccardiana.

Christian Ziereis: Why do you treat the dynasty of the Medici in Mannheim?

Dr. Rosendahl: In our exhibition we draw a line from the father of the Medici dynasty, Giovanni di Bicci (1369 - 1428) to the last Medici, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667 - 1743). And both have a connection to Mannheim and the region: The Antipope John XXIII had been held prisoner by the Palatine elector on castle Eichelsheim, which is now the area of Mannheim. He was released in 1419, but only after the first Medici and bank founder, Giovanni di Bicci, ransomed him. And if you know that the last Medici, Anna Maria Luisa, was Electress of Palatine, the circle is closing for Mannheim authentically and the connection to the toscan dynasty becomes apparent. Also, this year on 18th February it is the 270th anniversary of the death of Anna Maria Luisa.             

Christian Ziereis: How was the idea for this exhibition born and how did you get the exhibits?

Dr. Rosendahl: Our house is a museum but also works in the field of science. It runs amongst other things a huge research project on the European culture of mummification, and I have been researching mummification for years. 2010 on a conference in Kassel we co-organized, Professor Donatella Lippi from Florence reported on the mummies of the Medici. Thereupon we dicided to cooperate, so the idea for an extensive Medici exhibition was basically born. We also supported the exhibition with intensive research. It is for the complex research and archive work, that it took three years from the idea to the opening of the exhibition. But this also resulted in connections to instutions, museums and libraries in Florence from which we and our visitors can now profit.    

Christian Ziereis: Is there a supporting programme for the exhibition, an audioguide or others?  

Dr. Rosendahl: Yes, our exhibition has a rich supporting programme: Lectures, concerts, guided tours of course and an audio guide in English and German. And with the help of our children's audio guide also the small visitors can delve into the exciting times of the Medici. I would advise to take a look into our Events Guide on our homepage, there you will find extensive information.

Christian Ziereis: Do you have a favourite exhibit?

Dr. Rosendahl: The ruling system of the Medici had consequences on science. This also has a place in the exhibition and we want to express it with exhibits about Galileo Galilei. One of my favourit exhibits is actually the vertabra of Galileo Galilei which has never before been on display, a fantastic relic of science! Especially fascinating to me are the razor equipment of Pope Clemens VII (1478 - 1536). Our subjects are "People, Power and Passion". That is why we also want to show the human and every day part of the protagonists. Even if you can write an show quite a lot on popes especially: a razor equipment is something very personal and in its banality and closeness absolutely unique.

Christian Ziereis: Are there also exhibits on display for book lovers?

Dr. Rosendahl: Absolutely! We are especially proud of the hourbook, Lorenzo the Magnificent (19449 - 1492) had commissioned for his daughter Luisa. To see this piece of art en miniature as original is really something special. Definitely less decorative but not less exciting is for example the secret accounts book of Cosimo the Elder, in which the Medici bank recorded much higher profits that they told the municipality. Also we show medical books, a promissary note from 1424, the handwriting of Lorezo the Magnificen, a dublication of the famous "letter to Christina of Lorraine" by Galileo...