Sculptural Cultural Compulsion

Nearly every day, I pass by one of Rostock´s most boring information signs: sign

It wants me, it entices me, it BEGS me to visit the collection of molded antique sculptures (“Abguss-Sammlung antiker Plastik”) in Ulmenstraße 69, house 5.

During my first months at Rostock university, this lame sign didn´t use to bother me at all; it was all too easy to just shrug and ask myself, rather amused: “Does anybody at all go into this building? ´Visits are possible on Wednesdays between 16.00 and 18.00´ – how could anybody waste a lovely Wednesday afternoon by looking at copies of old sculptures?”

Unfortunately, after more than a year, the situation changed for the worst: Suddenly, I wasn´t able to ignore the sign anymore!

The look of that greenish, heavily bearded man on the plate started to haunt me. His empty but reproachful eyes began to accuse me: “What´s wrong with you?” he inquired with his gnawing calmness; “You honestly claim to be a student, interested in cultural and intellectual fields? If a random person asked you, you´d even affirm that history is one of those subjects you should be informed about in detail?! – And here it is… Here I am, a molded guy accompanied by a bunch of other old molded guys! A whole collection of antique sculptures right in front of you! Now, GO INSIDE ALREADY, for gods sake!”

At last, the sign managed to bring me to my knees. Acknowledging my defeat, I did, in fact, visit house 5 in order to put an end to my suffering.


If you expect a detailed description and review of the single sculptures at this point, I have to disappoint you, inasmuch as I didn´t spend more than 20 minutes inside the building. The explanation is simple and actually not surprising at all: The collection of molded antique sculptures is, indeed, as boring as the sign suggests at first sight!

Of course, there are some sculptures that are quite interesting: You might recognize Julius Caesar or even Homer, who turned out to be the greenish guy on the fateful sign who had made me go inside in the first place (his ´empty´ eyes suggest that he was blind). But, apart from that, most exhibits are only interesting to students of archeology or people extraordinarily interested in arts, for, unfortunately, the tiny labels on the single exhibits only state rudimentary information about each historical person or situation. Passing by more and more sculptures, I had a hard time accepting this deficiency, because I would have enjoyed learning about their political or cultural background. However, I became aware of the fact that this collection CONCENTRATES ON ARTS, NOT ON HISTORY.

left side

Of course, this is a perfectly legitimate priority. Indeed, reading my way through the names of well-known figures like Mark Antony and Cicero, I came to realize that I had been wrong to expect a historical overview, since house 5 merely offers a exposition of ARTIFACTS, no more no less.

Nevertheless, I couldn´t help but wonder what a guided tour would be like: Using a motivated guide was the only way I could think of to get the collection´s aesthetic message across to ordinary people like me. Somebody should take away the barrier between me an the sculptures because I wasn´t able to do it on my own.

3 heads

To sum up, I have to say that a guided tour would be the only offer which could make me visit the “Abgusssammlung” ever again. Regrettably, I couldn´t find out when the next one is planned but I was assured that PUBLIC TOURS TAKE PLACE (on rare occasions), which will be announced in due time. Apart from that, I hope to have facilitated or reinforced most people´s decision not to visit the exhibition on Ulmencampus. For me on the other hand, my culturally compulsory venture turned out to have been successful after all: The spell was finally broken; now, I can face the vigorous sign with a clear conscience!

Still, every now and then, the scornful eyes of greenish Homer seem to follow my steps in the way that had become my silent torture. Again, he addresses me, but using a more bargaining tone: “Well, I know we´ve had our differences, but that´s really not my fault! Come on, I´m sure you liked at least some aspects of the collection; come on inside and find out if there are already some new exhibits to be seen!”

At last, I´m able to smile back at his face full of persuasiveness and reply: “Get your business straight and you might see me reentering this building sooner than you think!”

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