Part of Dresden museum reopened amid calls for more security

Parts of Dresden’s Royal Palace have been reopened as investigators continue to search for the perpetrators of a massive museum art heist.

Part of Dresden museum reopened amid calls for more security
Museum authorities Dirk Syndram and Marion Ackermann lead a press conference in Dresden. Photo: DPA/ Robert Michael.

It’s been two days since Dresden’s state museum Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) was the target of two art thieves. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the Dresden museum heist

The burglars stole priceless artefacts from the historic Green Vault portion of the museum, which contains renovated rooms from the former royal treasury, as well as precious items of jewellery and other royal possessions. 

Together, the old and new sections of the Green Vault constitute the Baroque Treasury portion of the museum. The new section of the Vault was reopened on Wednesday.

Marion Ackermann, General Director of the Dresden state museums (SKD), said that the historic (old) portion of the vault, “will remain closed for the time being.” 

A sign announces the closure of the Historic Green Vault. Photo: DPA/ Robert Michael. 

The police are continuing their search for clues at the scene of the crime. 

Art experts from the SKD are working to determine the magnitude of the damage and losses caused by Monday’s heist. The Residenzschloss contains three other chambers: the coin cabinet, a collection of copper engravings, and the armory. 

New calls for increased security 

According to the SKD, there are several security centres in the museum, which are staffed around the clock with two guards each. A total of €8 million are spent annually on security. Recently, the training of private security guards has been intensified. 

Still, several authorities have called for increased security measures across Germany’s museums after the theft.

There were two guards on duty who saw the burglars entering on the security footage. However, they waited on the arrival of the police due to the clear violence displayed by the thieves in the video. The SKD defended the guards’ choice to not intervene without the police.  

The investigators continue to search for the perpetrators; so far only their intended escape vehicle has been found. It was later discovered on fire elsewhere in the city, but the authorities continue to examine it for clues. 

READ ALSO: 'Up to a billion euros' of jewels and antiques stolen from Dresden museum

Police continue to monitor the area around the museum. Photo: DPA/ Robert Michael.

Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, called for discussions among the federal and state criminal police forces, as well as experts on museum security. 

“We should use a small task force that thinks about this threat very precisely, in light of this very specific new threat situation,” he said. 

Monika Grütters (CDU), Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, also weighed in on the need for experts in answering questions of security.

“Our museums store art treasures that make up the cultural identity of our country and whose value is in the billions,” she said on Wednesday.

She called for answers on “how museums can protect their objects against such brutal action in the future and at the same time remain accessible to the public in the usual way”.

‘A purposeful and planned act’ 

The police described the act as “purposeful and planned.”

Michael John, Chief of Security for the SKD, commented on the “high criminal energy and purpose” behind the attack, which suggests detailed insider knowledge. 

For Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the potential destruction of the “highly symbolic” objects for their material value is a particularly dangerous threat. 

The art was plundered “in a barbaric manner” in the treasury, and he fears that “the danger is very great that the individual elements will be disassembled, the diamonds and other gems removed and possibly ground, so they are unrecognizable as old pieces and resold.” 

On Tuesday Dirk Syndram, the Director of the Green Vault, was allowed to see the scene for the first time and take photos. 

According to an initial assessment, fewer of the three most valuable jewellery sets were stolen than had been previously thought. Some very important objects were gone, but others were not lost, it was said.

By later on Wednesday afternoon, Syndram wants to quantify the damage and give the police as accurate as possible descriptions of the losses “so that they can then be recognized.” 

Translated by Kate Brady.

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Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021

With tougher Covid-19 restrictions now in place in Germany, travelling and socialising have become increasingly limited. So we’ve compiled a list of fun events for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021
The entrance to Berlin's Alte Nationalgallerie. Photo: DPA

Here are some events and ongoing activities to look out for in February.

Berlin Philharmonic returns to the 1920s, Saturday, February 13th 2021 at 6:45pm

Berliner Philharmoniker is streaming the 1920s First Symphony Opera, one of German composer Kurt Weill’s early performances. 

As described by the orchestra, this piece’s music is “captivating and triumphant”. The music was composed in 1927 and its story takes place in ancient Greece. 

Final Girls Film Festival, February 4th at 1pm to February 8th at 11:59pm

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. 

The festival is committed to creating space for female voices and visions, whether monstrous, heroic or some messy combination of the two, in the horror genre.

Berliner Festspiele, Strong Pieces Stream, Until March 

Berliner Festspiele is showing two of their top picks.

“The Misanthrope” is a Molière’s classic staged by Anne Lenk, and translated by Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens. It’s been called a straightforward delight with an exceptional concentration of language and wit. 

And “Man appears in the Holocene” is staged by Alexander Giesches after Max Frisch’s novella about mankind’s Sisyphus-struggle against their own doom.

König Gallerie, 'Dreaming of Alligator Head' by Claudia Comte, January 21st 2021- January 12th 2022

With her digital solo exhibition Dreaming of Alligator Head, Comte creates a scenario that is impossible in reality: She plants her underwater sculpture park in the König Gallerie app. The digital visitors inside experience a fascinating underwater world without having to go on a physical journey. 

Comte also seeks to raise awareness of marine environments and ask how an artistic object can change the world. Check out the exhibition on the König Gallerie app. 

Galerie Tanja Wagner, How to be human, until February 13th 2021 

Celebrating 10 years of the opening of her contemporary art gallery, Tanja Wagner’s exhibition, How to Be Human showcases her personal favourite works of artists she has collaborated with.

It includes Grit Richter’s famous work, Das Letzte Wort, as well as other works that in Wagner’s opinion, seek to explore the question ’How to Be Human’. 

Alte Nationalgalerie Online, until further notice

The Alte Nationalgalerie was set up as a “sanctuary for art and science”. The idea for a national gallery was realised after the donation of a collection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich to the Prussian state. 

Since Covid-19 has made it difficult to visit the otherwise very popular museum, the gallery has made its collection available online until further notice. 

Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Beats and Bones Podcast and Livestream, Mondays at 7pm, until further notice 

Berlin’s Naturkundemuseum is offering a podcast series where nature experts from the museum answer questions about the diversity of nature, evolution, the formation of the earth, climate change and insect death.

They explore questions such as “Who knows our earliest ancestors were 480 million-year-old jawless fish?” Or, ‘What is the Achilles heel of Tyrannosaurus rex’? 

Catch new episodes every Monday on Instagram, along with a live stream through the museum with experts accompanying you through the collection and exhibition. The previous episodes are available on Spotify as well as Youtube. 

Anne Frank Zentrum, All about Anne, until further notice 

The Anne Frank Zentrum's exhibition “All about Anne” is normally presented at Hackescher Markt in Berlin-Mitte. Since lockdown, the exhibition has been made available online. 

Its exhibition tells the story of Anne Frank's life and the time in which she lived. It also explains why her diary is so well-known today and shows that her thoughts are still relevant.