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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ius in nummis. The Thomas Würtenberger Collection – Bode-Museum | 26.05.2023-07.04.2024

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Bode-Museum will be showing the exhibition Ius in nummis – the numimatic collection of the legal scholar Thomas Würtenberger from 26 May 2023. Law concerns us all. It not only permeates the state, but touches and orders the lives of all people. The exhibition project “Ius in nummis” is about sources of law that are unjustly neglected: In the world’s first exhibition on law and justice in medallic art, the Münzkabinett is showing over 100 key pieces in the Bode Museum on Museum Island in Berlin.

Fig. above: Abraham Abramson, Medaille auf den Frieden von Amiens, VS, 1802, Silber, ex Slg. Thomas Würtenberger, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett

In January 2023, the “Ius in nummis” collection of the Freiburg legal scholar Professor Dr Thomas Würtenberger was donated to the Numismatic Collection of the National Museums in Berlin. With over 3,000 medals, it comprises the largest coherent numismatic corpus with references to law, justice and parliamentary and constitutional history. The collection’s focus on Western Europe in an increasingly global perspective allows diverse insights into the history of medial stagings of legal culture. Changing legal cultures and the developments of Western countries towards constitutional states are brought to the fore in the medal round.

For this important new acquisition of the Numismatic Collection, the first step was to systematically record the entire thematically and chronologically and geographically broad collection. The digitisation work, which will be completed shortly, will allow a comprehensive overview of this corpus for the first time.

DEEDS NEWS - Courtesy of Bode Museum - Daniel und Friedrich Loos, Medaille zur Hinrichtung Marie Antoinettes, VS, 1793, Silber, Slg. Thomas Würtenberger
Daniel und Friedrich Loos, Medaille zur Hinrichtung Marie Antoinettes, VS, 1793, Silber, Slg. Thomas Würtenberger, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett

The exhibition “Ius in nummis” presents the collection’s research question. It presents and contextualises over 100 key pieces with a focus on legal cultures of the Atlantic world and asks about perspectives for a further evaluation of the medals as sources of legal history.

In the exhibition, 15 showcases are divided into three sections. The history of collecting, Justitia and jurists, aphorisms and laws, legal practices and places of law-making are juxtaposed with historical developments from the Old Empire and Ancien Régime to today’s constitutional states.

Medals as places of remembrance in the history of law always touch on three basic questions: 1. which symbols, events and commonplaces were recorded? 2. what is staged as just and unjust? 3. how does the medal discourse on legal culture develop across epochs and spaces?

Last but not least, an edition of the Berlin Medailleur Circle, created especially for the exhibition, asks “What does the subject of law concern us today?”. The contributions by Ingrid Baumgärtner, Karin Dammers and Josef Speier, Marianne Dietz, Katrin Fahron, Andreas A. Jähnig, Claudius Riedmiller, Christian Rösner, Rr, Anna Franziska Schwarzbach and Lina Wiedwald explore current symbols of law and justice. This has resulted in works that touch on the current discourse on law and justice.

In addition, a publication will appear in autumn 2023 in the series of publications of the Numismatic Collection, presenting the focal points of the Würtenberger Collection on the basis of approx. 400 medals: Hardcover, approx. 360 pages, ISBN 978-3-86646-234-2, price: 59 €.


Museumsinsel Berlin
Am Kupfergraben
10117 Berlin-Mitte


Opening: Thursday, 25 May 2023, 6 pm
Exhibition dates: Friday, 26 May 2023 – Sunday, 7 April 2024
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 10 am – 6 pm

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