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Film and Museums

Aus: Fünf Tage, Fünf Nächte (1961)

This project studies the presence of museums in movies and documentaries since the invention of cinematography. Multiple studies fall under the purview of this project; see below.

Contact: Bénédicte Savoy

Early Documentaries on Berliner Museums. 1919-1939 (completed)

This project was launched upon the discovery of a series of documentary films that were made in, or in cooperation with, Berliner museums between 1934 and 1939 and were showed internationally.

Hans Cürlis, Herbert Körösi, and Th. N. Blomberg were the directors responsible for the films. Their contact people in the museum were Niels von Holst and Alexander Langsdorff, directors of the press office founded in 1934, Hugo Ibscher, a papyrus expert, Josef Liegle, a numismatist, Jacob von Danzas and Carl Brittner, both conservators, and the art historian and director of the Schlossmuseum, Robert Schmidt.  

These films served to justify the "Museum Films" genre, that had fully established itself by 1950 world wide. They were, however, not the first of their kind: in 1919, the director Hans Cürlis made a dozen silent films in the Berliner museums. These, unfortunately, are considered lost.

Publications and Materials:

Bénédicte Savoy, Vom Faustkeil zur Handgranate. Filmpropaganda für die Berliner Museen. 1934-1939, Böhlau Verlag, Köln/Wien/Weimar, 2014 more

Click here for a list of the films.

Looted Art at the Cinema

Art theft has been depicted in pictures since antiquity. Around 1800, many of Napoleon's looted and stolen objects were depicted in engravings, reliefs, paintings, and medals. In the 20th century, the iconography of stolen art expanded to include a series of films from both the east and the west: : Fünf Tage, Fünf Nächte (DDR/UdSSR, 1961), The Train (US, 1964), The Monuments Man (US/Dt. 2014) - just to name a few. This project uses comparative analysis to study the pictorial and ideological implications of these films.

The initial findings of this research was presented in a lecture by Prof. Savoy entitled "Musées violés. Espaces profanés" at the conference

Musées au cinéma, le cinéma face au musée.
Lieux d'exposition, galeries, musées imaginaires dans les films de fiction

in Paris (INHA, Musée du Jeu de Paume), December 2014





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