Luminescent magenta trees at the botanical gardens, pink-lit gravestones, shrouded by blue trees and stone archways accentuated by green, yellow, blue and red lighting; the city of Munich donned festive attire last Saturday for a special night. Blessed with perfect warm weather during the day, the setting sun served as an apt prelude to a cool autumn evening, on the Long Night of Museums (Die Lange Nacht Der Münchner Museen).
From architecture, to music, clubs, shopping, fitness and this time museums, The Long Night of… series in Munich have proved a popular outing among locals and tourists alike. The set-up is simple – you buy a €15 ticket which gives you access to a plethora of museums open specially from 19:00 to 02:00 as well as a shuttle bus service to all participating venues.
With some 90 museums, galleries and churches to choose from, it was naturally impossible to visit them all. I chose a few venues from the Inner City and East list – the events are conveniently grouped geographically. These were my highlights:
Behind the scenes with Gisela Stein… Deutsches Theatermuseum
Situated just off the Hoffgarten, by Odeonsplatz I discovered this museum I had previously not known of. A small, but quaint building, this museum had on display an enveloping exhibition of the radical German actress Gisela Stein. In addition to large paper montages of the actress, the exhibition had projected footage of the actress, a strong, relentless woman, who among other remarkable achievements, went back to the stage soon after a car accident that almost completely destroyed her body and left her with permanent damage.
Improvised opera… Nationalmuseum
From the tale of the Seduction of Thomas to an unassuming hedgehog, and alluring yoga sessions, the talented singers of La Triviata played to a packed audience at the National Museum – we had to sit on the floor there were so many people. Accompanied by an equally gifted pianist, the singers presented a flawless made-up show, much to the delight of the audience, who were so keen, they often shouted out suggestions before the full explanation had been delivered.
Black balloons and vaulting ceilings… St Lukas Church
As I walked along the geometrically red and blue patterned tiles of St Lukas, I was met with a visually arresting scene of black balloons apparently floating at various intervals up the vaulting ceiling of this, the largest Protestant church in Munich. Behind them, stood an enormous white balloon-like structure. While I admit I initially struggled with the point of the exhibition, after speaking to the Taiwanese body-artist artist Wang Te-Yu, I was left with food for thought, which is surely a sign of worthwhile art. Tied by pieces of hair to a stone, the balloons were let up every half an hour for 11 days. A part of the exhibition himself, Te-Yu explained that the exhibition sat side by side the church, where prayers were offered up to the heavens, just like balloons were floated up from hair, the part where the prayers ‘leave’ our bodies. The balloons, of course, eventually came down and the artist would send up new ones. A metaphor for our need to continually send our hopes to a higher level? Or perhaps it was just something beautiful. I probably would never have visited this church had it not been for Die Lange Nacht der Münchner Museen and Wang Te’Yu’s installation.