The traveling German exhibit Utopia-Revisiting a German State in America is about to arrive. Created by a unique team of artists, film makers, historians, actors, and photographers, the exhibition is the work of the Traveling Summer Republic.
Screenwriter Henry Schneider had introduced the story of the Giessen Emigration Society to film maker Peter Roloff after first encountering it nearly 40 years ago. In 2004, their interest attracted others and an annual event each summer where everyone traveled to Bremen to discuss the local history began. Realizing that the story was much broader, they contacted historian Dorris Keeven-Franke in 2009 asking what still remained in Missouri.
That began an international project as they soon learned that there was as much interest in the story in America as there was in
Germany. “What is a local story in Giessen, Warstein, Coburg, and Bremen Germany, is also local history in St. Louis, St. Charles, and Dutzow!” says historian Dorris Keeven-Franke.
The exhibition opened in Giessen Germany on November 1, 2013
accompanied by its huge catalog by the same name, published by Edition Falkenberg in Germany (now available in the U.S.) and then traveled to Bremen Germany where it was at the beautiful St. Stephanis Cultural Center. Now the exhibition is on its way to America, just as the original emigrants were in 1834, where it will open at the German
American Heritage Museum in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 6th at 4:00 pm.
The exhibit will open at St. Louis’ Missouri History Museum on November 22 with a U.S. Premiere of its documentary by maxim Films on November 23rd. The film, by the same name as the exhibit is part of the St. Louis International Film Festival, is Roloff’s latest work, and tells the story in both German and English, as the exhibit and book do as well. For more about the events at the Missouri History Museum follow their blog History Happens Here for all the exciting news!
While the exhibit shares the story of one of the largest emigration societies to ever emigrate to Missouri, it is discussion of immigration as well, and is fresh and relative to today’s issues. In 1834, five hundred people of all ages, occupations, religions and cities in Germany came to the U.S. in search of its’ freedoms. Created in Germany, the exhibition is in both German and English, is tangible evidence that this is truly an international story of interest as much to Germans as it is to Americans. Soon it will arrive in the U.S.!