Julie's Journey's: Germany

Here at the Dixon, we are all about creating unique experiences with works of art.  Most of the time, that involves a special tour of our permanent collection or current exhibition.  But occasionally, those experiences occur in extraordinary locations.  In early June, the Dixon hosted a group of fourteen supporters and friends on a trip to Germany.  The week-long journey was filled with exceptional tours, delicious food, and, most importantly, beautiful works of art.

Our trip began in Dresden, Germany, where most of our group was able to more fully comprehend the destruction that city endured during World War II.  This picture above was taken in front of Dresden’s Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady.  This Lutheran Church, the heart of Dresden’s Old Town, was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden in 1945 and was only rebuilt and reopened in 2005. 

We also had the privilege of receiving truly great tours of Dresden’s opulent Green Vault, chock-full of sumptuous treasures of every kind, and of the city’s Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, the highlight of which was taking in Raphael’s famous Sistine Madonna.

Many of you know that the Dixon boasts one of the world’s great collections of eighteenth century German porcelain with the Warda Stevens Stout Collection.  So a trip to Meissen, home of Europe’s oldest porcelain manufactory, just outside of Dresden was a must for our group.  At Meissen, we were given a rare tour inside the factory by Claudia Gulden, head of the Meissen Art Campus, where we witnessed every stage of porcelain manufacture, from modeling to firing to painting and glazing, and were able to talk to each of the many artisans who contribute to every single piece of porcelain produced at Meissen.  Touring the factory gave all of our group a greater appreciation for the Dixon’s porcelain collection, and we all now realize why Meissen is regarded as the finest European porcelain.

Immediately upon our return to Dresden, with Meissen porcelain fresh on our minds, we were treated to a tour of Dresden’s Porzellansammlung (or Porcelain Gallery, also called the Zwinger) by its famed director, Ulrich Pietsch.  The porcelain installation at the Zwinger was re-designed a few years ago by American architect Peter Marino, and it was such a thrill to see this innovative installation in person.  When renovation our Stout Gallery in 2013, the Dixon looked to the Zwinger for our inspiration.  Dr. Pietsch was a warm and informative guide, and it was an honor to go through the museum with him.

En route to Berlin, we were able to stop along the way and spend a day in Potsdam.  Our first stop was Sans Souci, Frederick the Great’s summer palace.  Sans Souci is French for “without care,” and this place definitely lives up to its name!  The rococo palace and its beautiful gardens were a breath of fresh air.  

After leaving Sans Souci, we drove across town to the Schloss Cecilienhof, the Tudor-style palace built by Germany’s Hohenzollern family.  Cecilienhof famously served as the site of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, when Harry Truman, Josef Stalin, and Winston Churchill met to negotiate terms for the end of World War II in Europe.  This short visit was fascinating—it was incredible to be in the same rooms where so much history took place.

After Cecilienhof, we traveled the short distance to Berlin, where we were treated to a fabulous driving tour around the city.  We stopped at the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall, where sections of the wall, close to the river Spree, have been left up and covered with paintings by artists from all over the world.  We also made stops at the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag.

Dixon trips not only offer encounters with incredible works of art, but with fascinating artists as well.  In Berlin, we were able to visit the studio of printmaker Matthias Mansen, a long-time friend of Dixon Director Kevin Sharp, who graciously hosted our group and gave us insight into his creative process.  Matthias’ current body of work is closely connected to his Berlin neighborhood, so it was great to be able to make that connection with him. 

After leaving Matthias’ studio, we walked up two flights of stairs to the stunning apartment of Wolfgang Wittrock, renowned art dealer, where we enjoyed cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres before being treated to a delicious private dinner at a nearby restaurant, where a good friend of Wolfgang’s is the chef.  The food was incredible, and the German wine flowed like, well, wine.  It was such a special experience.

The rest of our time in Berlin was filled with trips to the German capitals world-renowned museums, and we had a great farewell dinner.  Thanks to gorgeous weather, great company, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and lots of wiener schnitzel, our group had a blast.Stay connected with the Dixon to find out about future Dixon travel experiences!

Posted by Carolyn Fly at 3:45 PM
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