In 2004, screenwriter Henry Schneider asked friend and documentary film maker Peter Roloff, of maxim Films of Berlin Germany, if he had ever heard of the Giessen Emigration Society, a group of nearly 500 Germans that left for America in 1834.In 2009, they contacted historians in the U.S., asking what remained of this large group of these immigrants, opening a new and long friendship and collaboration of venues resulting in an International exhibition. This became the beginning of the “Traveling Summer Republic,” a transatlantic collection of artists, creators, and scholars, generates a meeting of the minds with these travelers. After eight years they have brought together their work and findings to create a world of discovery for people of all ages through video installations, texts, archives, footage, and photographs as Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America. Here is an invitation to a journey – through German and American States at turning points – of revolution and upheaval; along private, social, and philosophical adventures, through their motives, and the highs and lows of a bold vision. It is a journey through past and present Utopia.
St. Louis, MIssouri
When it first opened in Giessen, Germany, on November 1st, 2013, it received a tremendous response. Where once students involved in the German revolutions of the 1830s, struggled for change, the exhibit resonated with its City’s history. Then the story came alive in the beautiful port City of Bremen, Germany, the place of departure for thousands of Germans leaving for the U.S.. The exhibit opeed in the beautiful cultural hall St. Stephani, bringing the immigration story alive again with its fascinating programs.The Exhibition then traveled by ship to the U.S., just as the original emigrants did, where it was on display at the German-American Heritage Museum, sharing the story of the Giessen Society members’ search for true American freedoms!
Now the Exhibition Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America is at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, as a STL250 event. Bringing alive the issues emigrants faced then, and still face today with language and cultural barriers. Exploring the issues of nationality and patriotism, slavery and emancipation, and how thousands of Germans impacted Missouri’s course in history during the Civil War. Explore how the arrival and assimilation of these early emigrants impacted Missouri’s history, and continue to do so today.