Special Exhibition “Silver’s Shine & Silver Greed”

The first special exhibition of the European Hansemuseum, “Silver’s Shine & Silver Greed – The Silver Treasure from Bergen”, provides insights into the eventful history of the precious metal – and presents a collection of valuable Norwegian pieces from silver’s heyday.

At the heart of the temporary exhibition are items of finely crafted silverware made in Bergen, Norway, from the 16th to 18th century. This collection from the KODE Art Museums in Bergen, which has been enlarged by the collector Christen Sveaas, is being shown for the first time outside Norway. For eleven weeks, visitors can admire exhibits from an age in which silver still dominated the global economy. They will find out lots about the history, production and use of the precious metal over the centuries.

Silver's Shine & Silver Greed
The Silver Treasure from Bergen

December 7, 2016 - February 26, 2017

Absolute masterpieces of the silversmith's art are displayed in an exhibition space covering some 250 square metres: delicate spoons, drinking vessels engraved with coats of arms and wedding jewellery, some of it gilded or decorated with tinkling balls. The selection of glistening objects underlines the unique talent of the goldsmiths from Bergen. At the same time, their patterns and motives are typical of the period in which they were created.

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Alongside the precious original pieces, the exhibition tells the story of silver, which stretches back to Antiquity, by means of infographics, pictures and text. In the dialectic of the exhibition, the literal shine of the silverware is contrasted with the historical greed for the metal. European adventurers exploited the silver reserves in South America ruthlessly, built vast mines like the one in Potosí, Bolivia, and did not hesitate to massacre the indigenous population. As the pillage continued unabated, the dark side of the precious metal became apparent in Europe, too: An oversupply of silver caused it to lose value – and the world, which had already been scarred by the trade with the sought-after commodity, had its first experience of inflation.


Today, silver has become an ordinary material for many people, which is mainly used in the industry and in technical products. In the two-part exhibition, the visitors look at the precious metal from various perspectives. An extensive programme of supporting activities for adults and children highlights the links between Norwegian merchants and goldsmiths of the past and present-day Lübeck. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which can be bought in our museum's shop, and you can find out more about the prices to the special exhibition here.


The special exhibition is sponsored by the Lübeck Possehl-Stiftung and the Luxemburger Advanzia Bank.