Friday, July 22, 2011, marked the official opening of the new Museum für Russlanddeutsche Kulturgeschichte (Museum for the Cultural History of Germans from Russia) in Detmold, Germany. The selection of July 22 as the opening date was to commemorate the 248th anniversary of the Manifest issued by Catherine the Great inviting Germans and other Western Europeans to settle in Russia.
Some months prior to the official opening, at the suggestion of board member Lawrence Klippenstein, the Board of Directors of Mennonite Heritage Village, decided it would be appropriate to send a gift from MHV to the Detmold Museum. While their story has a slightly different focus, it also has elements in common with the MHV story, specifically the Russian experience. Board member Rudy Friesen quickly volunteered to personally represent MHV at this official opening and present our gift.
It was decided that the gift should be something that would offer a permanent and visible link between the two museums. A handmade pair of children’s socks was selected as the appropriate gift. The socks were knit by Susanna Neufeld, nee Heinrichs, who was born in 1892 in South Russia, which is today Ukraine. In 1912 she married Gerhard Neufeld, who was murdered by rebel forces in 1920. Susanna Heinrichs Neufeld emigrated to Canada in 1924 and was known to be a talented seamstress.
Our Senior Curator, Roland Sawatzky, collaborated with the staff at Presenting Art in Steinbach to create an attractive framed display containing one of the socks as well as words of greeting and explanation. This gift was then taken to Detmold by Rudy Friesen and presented to Dr. Katharina Neufeld, the Director of the Detmold Museum, on July 22. The matching sock will be similarly mounted and displayed at MHV to recognize and declare our relationship with this museum in Germany.
Relationships with other museums are important and worth nurturing. Every museum has unique elements in its exhibits and operations. Many times we can learn from one another. People who visit one museum are often likely to visit other museums as well. In this case, visitors to MHV will be made aware of the Detmold Museum and vice versa. By sharing ideas and artifacts, we will become stronger individual entities, better equipped to do the work of a museum.
MHV Board Member Rudy Friesen and Dr. Katharina Neufeld, Director of the Detmold Musuem.