to main navigation

to content

to area navigation

The Dresden Damascus Room

Exhibition by the Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnographical Museum Dresden), at the Japanisches Palais (Japanese Palais)

Please note: The Dresden Damascus Room is currently closed due to restoration works. However the Dresden Damascus Room conservation workshop will be open to visitors on eleven Sundays from 5 March - 4 June 2017 from 1-5 p.m. in each case. Additional special events offer interesting and varied tours of discovery on these dates. The program can be found here in English as well as in Arabic.

History and presence of an interior between Orient and Occident

A jewel from the historic Old City of Damascus is being kept in Dresden - and could contribute to changing our perception of the Orient and Syria. The Dresden Damascus Room consists of a wooden wall and ceiling paneling that is elaborately embellished with metal leafed and painted decoration (dated 1225/1810-11) and once adorned the reception room for guests in a noble residence in Damascus. Because of its sale to Germany in 1899 and the decades of storage, the common renovations and repaintings that commonly happened to other interiors still in use could have been evaded. Furthermore, it is one of very few Syrian interiors in collections abroad that is still preserved in its authentic dimensions and that has not been created for the Western art market.

The art collector Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874–1921) purchased the room in Damascus in 1899 for his newly-established, visionary Folkwang Museum. However, due to the premises’ ceilings not being high enough, it was never erected there. Instead, it was donated to Dresden in 1930. For unknown reasons, the room stayed packed in storage for further decades. In 1997, a project for its conservation and re-installation was initiated. Thanks to the support of the Museum and Research Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, a team of German and Syrian conservators was able to complete a major part of the complex conservation and restoration undertaking between 2014 and 2016. Three fully restored walls were assembled in March 2017 and now, for the first time in a very long time, offer a glimpse into the highly-developed bourgeois culture of one of the oldest trading cities in the world.