Back into the light - Georg Forster and the Southseas Collection of Woerlitz

Das Gartenreich

16th March – 30th September
Tuesdays – Sunday, holidays 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tuesdays – Sunday, holidays 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Tours outside of opening hours are possible with prior reservation and at separate conditions.

Tour of Belvedere and Georg-Forster-Exhibition

12,00 € (ca. 1,5 hoursbis )

children up to the age of 16 and accompanied by an adult:
free admission

pupils in groups with max. 3 accompanying addults:
1,50 €


full price:
6,00 €

Groups with more than 15 persons, students up to the age of 25, trainees, unemployed persons, severly disabled people (admission free: accompanying person):

5,00 €

children up to the age of 16 and accompanied by an adult:
free admission

pupils in groups with max. 3 accompanying addults:
1,50 €

Schloss Woerlitz
D-06785 Oranienbaum-Woerlitz / OT Woerlitz

T: +49 (0)340.6461544


seasonal permanent exhibition Back into the light - Georg Forster and the Southseas Collection of Woerlitz

From the „Resolution“ – Captain Cook’s three-master – to the revolution in Mainz: the first part of the seasonal permanent exhibition about Georg Forster in Schloss and Park Wörlitz takes a good look at the live, work and impact of the great European and cosmopolitan.

On 6th March 2018 the first permanent exhibition in Germany about Georg Forster was opened in Schloss Wörlitz. He was cofounder of the first German republic, an explorer alongside Captain Cook, a pioneer of German travel literature and donator of the famous collection of objects from the South Sea.

Forster, the explorer: a record holder returns after 1111 days
British seafarer James Cook covered 40.000 sea miles during the measuring of the Pacific Ocean – that is almost the distance from the earth to the moon. Georg Forster, who was Cook’s draughtsman, returned after 1111 days around the world as a 20-year-old and multi record holder: no German before him had seen more of the world. Between 1772 and 1775 he and his father visited more than 50 islands, got to know about a dozen oceanic cultures and discovered, drew and described more than 600 until then unknown animal and plant species. Never before had a human being advanced further to the South Pole despite the masses of antarctic ice.

Precious original objects from the tour around the world – presented after 250 years
Georg Forster’s handwritten notes on the South Sea, Captain Cook’s logbook, the first pictures of women and man from the South Sea, overwhelmingly beautiful drawings of blooming trees on Tahiti and antarctic penguins, captured by Georg Forster’s hand 250 years ago: it is the first time ever that these rare and original testimonials of the tour around the world are presented together in a Forster-exhibition. But in his opinion, the most important realisation was what concerns the essence of the human being. The bottom line of the tour was this: the nature of human beings is the same around the world. Georg Forster competed and stood up with this revelation against the „worldly and wise man from Königsberg“, the philosopher Immanuel Kant. He became an advocate against the racism of his time.

Forster, the Jacobin: „Only free humans have a homeland!“
Forster never let go of the idea of equality. He went with Alexander von Humboldt, who called his teacher throughout his lifetime „the brightest star“ of his adolescence, to Paris that was captured by the French Revolution and was inspired by its new ideals. When the French Revolutionary Army fought back intervening German troops and thus crossed the river Rhine in the spring of 1793, the revolutionary spirit had sparked on German soil. 20 years after his journey aroung the world, Georg Forster – by now a famous academic and writer – was at the forefront of the Republic of Mainz. He campaigned at the National Convention for the union between the „Mainzer Republik“ and the nation of the „free Franconians“ in order to give stability to this new departure into democracy in Germany. His motto: „Only free humans have a homeland!“

Forster in Wörlitz: „Fürsten can be human beings, if only they want to be…“
All the more astonishing is the correspondence between the future Jacobin Georg Forster and Fürst Franz, the late feudal sovereign of Anhalt-Dessau. In the spring of 1779 Georg Forster amazingly realised that „Fürsten can be human beings, if only they want to be“ when he visited Schloss Wörlitz for two weeks and led a life of leisure and „en famille“ with the princely couple. He was full of respect for the prince’s efforts concerning the subjects’ education that he studied in the Philanthropin in Dessau. During his stay in Anhalt-Dessau he furthermore deepened his knowledge about the exotic „Curiosities from the South Sea“ that formed the South Sea Collection of Wörlitz and conveyed a bit the Polynesian culture.

Representation of a sensual narration
The exhibition in Schloss Wörlitz attempts to re-establish the impressive „South Sea Colleg“ with the help of Forster’s records of the journey. He held this Kolleg almost 250 years ago in the very same builing in front of the princely couple and their guests. There is a loincloth of a female dancer from Raiatea as well as a drawing from Poedua, who was the daughter of the island’s high priest, which became the symbol of Tahiti’s myth. Georg Forster had admired her during the Hiwa, the Polynesian dance theatre. The notes he had written down can be heard for the very first time. The ethnological artefact of a hair sample is put into context with the scent of Tiaré flowers that were put into the high towering hairstyles for the Hiwa.

Shadow gallery for the South Sea Pavilion in Wörlitzer Park
Remnants in the design of the garden of Forster’s visit to Wörlitz are revealed as well with the Year of Georg Forster beginning in May of 2018. Among the most impressive ones is the South Sea Pavilion on the Eisenhart at the western entrance to Wörlitzer Park. Fürst Franz instructed his court architect Erdmannsdorff right after Georg Forster’s visit to install this small refuge for his Forster-collection that was open to everyone. But humidity and the ravages of time took their toll on the building. Today, the ethnological artifacts are put into high tech display cabinets in Schloss Wörlitz and therefore in better hands. The South Sea Pavilion is now the setting for an installation: a shadow gallery will remind of the history of the South Sea collection and the remarkably progressive anticipation of Fürst of Anhalt-Dessau of the civil institution that museums are.

[b]Exposing the European take on a Polynesian ritual place on Tahiti[b]
It is a little sensation right at the beginning of the Year of Georg Forster: the European take on Tahiti on the Eisenhart. From the southern point of view, the stone platform with the South Sea Pavilion and the library pavilion looks like a Venetian bridge arch, but from the west the outlook changes dramatically and reveals a double-stage pyramid. A staffage by architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff that reminds of a Polynesian ritual place, a so-called Marae. It is probably the only one of its kind outside of Oceania! Once more Fürst Franz tried to combine necessity – library and museum – with beauty. The long time overgrown and now in its purpose rediscovered staffage is presented to visitors through a new and informative display at the Eisenhart.