• Panorama Rouen 1431
    created by Yadegar Asisi in 2016
    photo © asisi

22nd International Panorama Conference, Panoramic Spectacles – A Tourist Attraction Then and Now

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Lucerne, Switzerland, 22-25 November 2013

The 22nd International Panorama Conference was held in Luzern, Switzerland.

The conference was opened on the visitor platform of the Bourbaki panorama. After an opening speech by the President of the IPC Ernst Storm and a welcome speech of the President of the City Parliament of Lucerne Thomas Gmuer the attendants of the conference were allowed a look behind the scenes. It was incredible to see what Christian Marty and Liselotte Wechsler and their conservation team had done over the past twenty years.

The Bourbaki panorama depicts the French army who under general Bourbaki flees to Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. Special about this panorama – as Patrick Deicher (Switzerland,   

patrick.deicher@deicher.ch) mentioned in the first lecture of the conference day – was that this was a battle panorama without a battle. It showed the event of the 87.000 refugees that stayed in Switzerland. By depicting the humanitarian system of Switzerland – the Red Cross was just established in 1863 - the panorama underlined a characteristic identity of the Swiss. The panorama was originally made for Geneva by the painter Edouard Castres and ten collaborators. In 1889 the Bourbaki panorama was transferred to Luzern. In 1926 the rotunda was used as a parking garage what both rescued and damaged the panorama painting. About five meters of the sky were cut away in order to create more space for the cars. In the 1970s/80s the association for the preservation of the Bourbaki Panorama was founded and bought the building and painting. Nowadays the panorama is still under supervision of the restorers and the building serves as a community institution with a public library and several cinemas. http://www.bourbakipanorama.ch

As Andreas Bürgi (Switzerland, a.buergi@bluewin.ch) of the University of Luzern explained the panorama was situated on the nineteenth century touristic strip of Luzern. From 1848 tourism became increasingly important for the city of Luzern and numerous hotels were built at the lakeside. To show what Switzerland’s landscape had to offer a few spectacles were established, like the Glacier Garden and the Alpineum mountain dioramas. But also spectacles that explained the identity of Switzerland like the panorama and the Lion monument.

The broad variety from historical to contemporary topics during the two day conference showed the interest that still exists for the panoramic phenomenon. The theme of this year’s conference was Panoramic spectacles – a tourist attraction then and now. Sara Velas’(USA, sara@panoramaonview.org) presentation was a literal interpretation of the topic as she presented footage from her trip to the contemporary panoramas of China and North-Korea. In these panoramas both painting as digital projections were used to enrich the depictions.

Companies like Asisi (Germany, www.asisi.de,office@asisi.de) and Concept360 (Switzerland, http://www.concept360.ch/de, info@concept360.ch) and the project Elisarion (Switzerland, www.elisarion.ch,  lukas.piccolin@bluewin.ch & werner@arch.ethz.ch) showed the value of new media in order to attract its audience. For instance Concept360 captures historic moments like the election of the new pope in a 360 degrees digital medium in order to make the spectator part of this historic moment. The Elisarion project 3D laser scanning made it possible to reenact a historic panoramic painting, namely ‘The clear world of the blissful’ and its original building. In the projects of Asisi they offer the spectator an extra layer to the panorama by creating also an exhibition. One of the examples Matthias Thiel showed was the Pergamon panorama exhibited in the Pergamon museum, Berlin 2011-2012.

The conference touched upon a few lost nineteenth century panoramas as the Jerusalem panoramas that were exhibited in the Netherlands (Sylvia Alting van Geusau, the Netherlands, sl.altingvangeusau@gmail.com), the panoramas of the Belgian Panorama Company in the United States (Suzanne Wray, USA, gribble@earthlink.net), the panoramas and dioramas displayed in Leipzig (Antje Dietze, Germany, adietze@uni-leipzig.de) and the panoramas of the Brazilian painter Victor Meirelles (Mário César Coelho, Brazil, mccoelho6@yahoo.com.br).

Next to these lost nineteenth century panoramas there are luckily enough still some to be seen. Marina Zboevskaya (Russia, mpbb@mail.ru) from the Battle of Borodino panorama Moscow and Ryszard Wójtowicz (Poland, zabytki@drabikwojtowicz.pl) from the Raclawice panorama Poland both explained more about the way in which they attracted their audience. The panorama of the Battle of Borodino in Moscow works for instance together with other Ukrainian and Russian panoramas and dioramas. Lyubov Proshina (Russia, laproshina@gmail.com), member of the studio who restored the Battle of Borodino, gave a talk about the contemporary works that the Studio of Military Artists also manufactures. Important for both historical- and contemporary- battle panoramas made in Poland and Russia, is the memorial and social history that the panoramas carry out. Sara Smidt (Switzerland, sara.smidt@thun.ch) informed that in 2014 the panorama of Thun will be re-opened for the public. In a new building will the audience be able to see the restoration of the canvas. That this is an exciting job explained Katarzyna Górecka (Poland, katarzyna_gorecka@wp.pl) in her talk. She talked about her experiences during the public restoration of a massive Belgian painting ‘Adoration of the Magi’ from the Cathedral in Namur.

Some other forms related to the panorama phenomenon also were reviewed As Marcel Just (Switzerland, juzur@bluewin.ch) showed, the panoramic view was also to be seen in real life from a watchtower and Blagovesta Momchedjikova (USA, bmm202@nyu.edu) took this panoramic view inside when she explained a three dimensional scale model of the city of New York.         

The conference participants were surprised by two moving panorama shows. David Brill (United Kingdom, dave.brill@btopenworld.com) reenacted the ‘moving panorama from London to Hong Kong’ made by his great- and great-great- grandfather. Using the scanned images of the water-colored studies and notebooks of his ancestors, he read the story they imagined in the nineteenth century. Another contemporary moving panorama was shown by Sue Truman (USA, stepdancesue@gmail.com). She showed a homemade ‘crankie’ entitled ‘The Seagull’ made out of felt on fabric.

We want to thank all 45 participants for making this conference successful and we hope to see you next year in Altötting.