The Kaiser is Coming

Fall, 2012

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany Visits Jerusalem, 1898

On October 29 – November 4, 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife the Empress Augusta Victoria made an historic trip to Jerusalem as the focal point of their travels to the Holy Land. Their visit received unprecedented coverage. Photographers from the Holy Land and abroad followed the visit, local press reported on the journey, and even foreign newspapers devoted caricatures to the trip.

The exhibition focused on the royal visit through the lens of journalism and media. It highlighted the complex preparations, the difficult journey, the lavish receptions, the public accolades, the formal occasions, the visit to the Temple Mount and the laying of cornerstones in his presence. The exhibition explored the question of why so many journalists covered the visit and why so many inhabitants came out for the occasion.

It also explored the urban consequences created by this visit to Jerusalem, a city just beginning to reawaken. Through stunning photographs, the visitor relived this special encounter between East and West, appreciated how the modest city of Jerusalem was overcome by royal abundance and sensed the rising enthusiasm of the population for the multiple and complex preparations before and during the royal visit. After a frenetic week of events, questions arose, some of which have still not been answered: about the relationship between the nature of the visit and the way it was presented, who profited and who lost, and in particular, what legacy was left for the city.

The materials exhibited included original newspapers in Hebrew and other languages, photographs taken during the visit and interpretive articles written by the exhibition curator. All these were presented in dynamic displays of “virtual” newspapers with which the visitor was invited to directly interact. Each newspaper ws designed differently and each was devoted to a different topic related to the visiting Kaiser. Alongside these was a series of huge projected images and typical cameras of the era. The visitor entered the image through the camera, wandered in and out of the scene and found additional information of interest.

Curator: Ruta Peled
Exhibition Design and Production: Yaal Tevet and Roy Roth
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Read about the visit here – Special edition >