In the mid 1960s, the Museum für Naturkunde and the sport and military organization “Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik” in the GDR launched the plan to dismount a segment of a coral reef on the Cuban coast and to thereafter re-erect it in the museum in East-Berlin. In 1974 the corals collected in Cuba were worked into a diorama that was presented on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic. In her talk, Manuela Bauche investigates the work that was necessary to create the diorama: the work that was necessary to collect “Cuban corals” and to transfer them to East Berlin as well as the work that was necessary to turn them into the illusionist and stabile display that was presented in October 1974.
Lukas Rieppel analyzes in his talk the way plaster cast reproductions were produced, circulated, and exhibited in artistic and scientific contexts during the late 19th and early 20th century to develop a broader argument about the different standards of authenticity that came to operate in both contexts at that time. In particular, he argues that natural history museums embraced a vision of authenticity grounded in the quality of indexicality.