Myanmar – The Golden Land

October 18, 2014 until May 17, 2015

Myanmar – the mysterious “Golden Land”: Although Myanmar, formerly Birma, is one of the larger countries in Southeast Asia with an area of 678,500 km² and a population of around 55 million, its culture, art and history are largely unknown. The exhibition provided comprehensive insights into the culture of a country that is making its way into the modern age after many years of isolation.

Anyone who travels through Myanmar immediately recognizes: life there is determined by Buddhism. Centuries-old temples and golden pagodas dominate the landscapes, in every house a shrine is enthroned in the highest place for the daily worship of Buddha and children become monks at a young age.

Using 200 selected originals from top-class international collections, films and music, the exhibition conveyed an impression of Myanmar society and traced the diverse forms of expression of lived religion. The focus was on Myanmar Buddhism and the closely related arts. On display were a throne, impressive Buddha figures from twelve centuries, frescoes, magnificent manuscripts on paper, palm leaf and ivory, filigree wood carvings, lacquer vessels and other objects from Buddhist monasteries. The performing arts also contributed to the communication of Buddhist teachings. In addition to excerpts from performances, costumes, puppets and traditional musical instruments were on display. The highlight was a complete Hsaing orchestra, which consists of a variety of different drums, gongs and other melodic instruments and is used at public events to accompany dances and religious ceremonies.

Astrology and magic still play an important role in Myanmar today. The worship of the Nat spirits is presented in a complete shrine with figurines and votive offerings. Traditional moral concepts and the belief in the effect of colors and patterns, which can have a lasting impact on one’s fate, characterize the arts of body design: The exhibition showed fine silk dresses, hand-woven cotton fabrics, jewelry, traditional cosmetics and tattooing utensils. Works by contemporary artists finally set out in search of a Myanmar modernity.

For kids
Embedded in the exhibition was a special children’s level: young visitors discovered his home together with the little monk Dhammananda. He tells about monasteries, mythical animals and their planets, and shows how to dress and what the writing looks like. A free children’s booklet accompanied visitors through the exhibition, with stations inviting them to try things out and be amazed.

Museum der Kulturen Basel / Museum Rietberg Zürich / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Orientabteilung / Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford / Völkerkundemuseum der J. G. E. von Portheim-Stiftung Heidelberg / Pansodan Gallery Yangon / Yangon Film School / Private loans

Mobility Partner:
Deutsche Bahn

With the kind support of:
State of Baden-Württemberg, Ströer – Deutsche Städte Medien

Media partner:
National Geographic