Society crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1834 with plans to create a model Democratic German State in the USA – that later became a State of Germans in Missouri.The exhibition UTOPIA studies their myriad of stories through art and action. Political and social dimensions are explored and provide inspiration for everyone today. The exhibition moved as the Utopians once did, from Giessen (where it opened on November 1, 2013, to Bremen in Germany, to Washington DC to the Missouri History Museum, where it was seen from November 23, 2014 until April 19, 2015. Always with the invitation: Whoever checks “in” may join us as well – in thoughts, by train, truck or ship.
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 historian Dorris Keeven-Franke, Director of the Missouri Germans Consortium in the U.S., asking what remained of this large group of immigrants, opening a new and long friendship and collaboration of venues that resulted in an International exhibition. This became the beginning of the “Traveling Summer Republic,” a transatlantic collection of artists, creators, and scholars, friendship that generated a meeting of the minds with hundreds of thousands of Americans. This collaboration between the TSR and Missouri Germans brought together a world of discovery for people of all ages through video installations, texts, archives, footage, and photographs in 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.”
When UTOPIA – Revisiting a German State in America 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 opened 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!
UTOPIA – Revisiting a German State in America opened 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 affected Missouri’s course in history during the Civil War. The arrival and assimilation of these early emigrants
continues to impact Missouri today. The exhibition came to a close on April 19, 2015 after nearly 100,000 visitors experienced Utopia in both the U.S. and in Germany.
With the exhibition came the excellent documentary UTOPIA – Revisiting a German State in America by Producer Peter Roloff of Maxim Films of Berlin Germany. In both German and English it share the story of a researcher looking to understand the Giessen Emigration Society’s story. The documentary is available on Amazon.com.
Publisher Edition Falkenberg brought us the story through print in the
bilingual book UTOPIA – Revisiting a German State in America for those that could not attend the Exhibition. This beautiful soft bound publication shares the stories, and the beautiful photographs of the Exhibition. For those that want to dig deeper, into the history of 18th Century emigration from Germany to Missouri, this is an excellent resource. The book is available on Amazon.com as well.