Document Actions

Call for applications: Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2021 - Culture. Power. Democracy.

Cultural institutions as places of education on democracy

September 13 - September 26, 2021

Within a democratic society, cultural institutions are places for the formation of self-understanding. By showing, collecting, preserving and staging objects, they map society, including all its associated conflicts, social and moral resources, histories, and futures. But what is the cultural institution's contribution to democracy?

Democracy is a model where the majority rules - but it is also a model of fundamental human rights, as well as the promise of participation and of equal opportunities. Democracy enables diversity. At the same time, it must avoid discrimination to the greatest extent possible. The forms, places and media of democratic action and democratic participation are changing. Are the fiery public discourses and emotions on social media, as well as the civic movements that are forming both online and in real life, signs of a vibrant democracy or rather indications of its decline and the dwindling trust in democratic institutions? Is societal cohesion at risk? What function do cultural institutions have in this field?

How can they encourage participation, create freedom of action, bridge gaps in society, overcome disunity, enable experiences of self-efficacy, and strengthen civic engagement? Is that part of their responsibilities? In the present conflicts, and the cultural and political upheavals, how can they demonstrate stances and take positions?  What are the formats that cultural institutions can use to strengthen democracy? These are just a few of the questions that the exchange with the participating institutions will focus on.


The Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School is an interdisciplinary programme for young academics and museum professionals. It takes its name from the honorary fellow of the TU Dresden, Henry Arnhold, whose philanthropic spirit and close ties to Dresden, the city of his birth, have inspired diverse partnerships between the city’s cultural and academic institutions. As a joint project between the TU Dresden, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr, Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Dresden Summer School draws from the resources of a broad network of major partners. The project aims to bring together high-level speakers and experts from the participating institutions to discuss topical issues relating to how museums and libraries perceive themselves, their mission, and the state of collections and exhibitions in the future. The discussions cover underlying theoretical concepts but also include concrete practical approach.