Missouri Germans Consortium

Everything German in Missouri

Is Utopia real or imaginary?

What is Utopia? Where is Utopia? The summer of 1834, many German immigrants, some of the five hundred members of the Giessen Emigration Society led by Friedrich Muench, defined that as “Missouri, where the sun of freedom shines”. Not imaginary, this very real place had been proclaimed the 24th state in the Union by President Monroe, on August 10, 1821. Their objective was to form a German State. The result was a state that enjoys a tremendous amount of German heritage to this very day.

Headed for America
Headed for America

Today, their Utopia is being revisited. The exhibition, Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America, the project of Peter Roloff (maxim Films/Berlin & Bremen) Oliver Behnecke, and a huge group of artists, historians, script writers, authors, archivists, and more (Traveling Summer Republic); revisits the subjects of emigration, patriotism, and what a Utopia is. This huge exhibit follows the subjects, visually, emotionally, and physically. It opened in Giessen, Germany on November 1, 2013, enjoyed a tremendous response with thousands of visitors, and closed at the end of 2013.

Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.

It re-opens in the port city of Bremen’s St. Stephani Cultural Center in April of 2014, where it will continue to share its stories with enthusiastic and interested visitors from all over Germany, until July 2014. Then, just as members of the original Society did, it will arrive in the United States, only  with a little more attention. The exhibit will open in the museum of the German American Heritage Foundation in September 2014. Where it will begin its U.S. tour, with its wonderful programs, following the original route of those early emigrants. Its final destination, at the original groups was, is Missouri, where it will open November 22, 2014 at the Missouri History Museum.

Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO
Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO

Visitors will find much more than the history of this early, unique and interesting German emigration society. The themes of emigration, immigration, patriotism, family ties, and Utopia are also explored. Each station, in both German and English, takes the visitor visually, by including both audio visual and beautiful photographs in thought provoking through their own life journey. They feel how difficult the decision to emigrate, and how much patriotism they gave for their new Fatherland in the U.S. during the Civil War. After the visitor travels through time and space, they arrive at the Exhibit’s center and find at its’ heart, a unique archives that includes hundreds of documents and books that contributed to the exhibit, its’ book and the documentary.

Should Missouri petition Merriam-Webster to change its definition of Utopia?

“Utopia: noun \yu̇-ˈtō-pē-ə\: an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect”*
Full Definition of UTOPIA
1:  an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
2: often capitalized :  a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions
3:  an impractical scheme for social improvement
Examples of UTOPIA
The town’s founders wanted to create a Christian utopia.
Origin of UTOPIA:  imaginary and ideal country in Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More, from Greek ou not, no + topos place
First Known Use: 1597


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