Bavarian way of life Apr 17, 2015

An emperor in Bavaria – the Bavarian national exhibition in Ingolstadt delves deeper into Napoleonic times

Between April and October 2015, the military museum in Ingolstadt will present both Bavarian and European history up close. The theme for this year’s Bavarian national exhibition is Napoleon’s influence on the state.

Reformer, powermonger, military commander and warlord – even today, Napoleon is still one of the most prominent and controversial figures in European history. Bavaria is taking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo as an opportunity to take a closer look at the French emperor’s influence on the state. The military museum in Ingolstadt has brought together a multitude of fascinating exhibits to mark the occasion.

The Bavarian national exhibition has been presented at a different location within the state since 1983 and addresses a different aspect every time. This year, the exhibition is moving to the military museum in Ingolstadt. Napoleon and Ingolstadt? This city on the river Danube is known today for its important economic centre for automotive and mechanical engineering. Experts will also know that the German purity law for beer was enacted here in 1516. 

However, Ingolstadt played a particularly important role in Bavaria’s military history, which was the determining criterion for the national exhibition. The Bavarian fortress around Ingolstadt has kept enemies away since the Renaissance period. It was then Napoleon who commanded the fortress to be demolished, however it was rebuilt once again under the rule of King Ludwig I and became the most significant fortress within the state. Today, the fortress’s remains are well-preserved and spread across the whole city, making Germany’s youngest city a unique open air museum. Today, the confines of the New Castle in Ingolstadt where Napoleon once spent the night while moving into the city with the French revolutionary army in tow, have been transformed into a military museum.


Fate and chance – Napoleon’s influence on Bavaria

Exclusively for the exhibition, the museum is presenting an abundance of original exhibits, allowing the post-revolutionary period of Napoleon to be relived through interactive elements. Split up into10 sections, the exhibition recounts the brief era between the rise of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. There are more than 300 exhibits waiting to be viewed within the museum, including some inconspicuous aspects which in some cases reveal the most vivid stories. Take the simple ball of destiny, for instance: at the time, this ball decided on who – out of the eligible men – would be drafted into the army and consequently be required to enlist for eight years of military service.

Some paintings portray impressive examples of Napoleonic propaganda. For instance, the painting by Nicolas-Antoine Taunay portrays Napoleon’s arrival in Munich in 1805 as a much more magnificent occasion than what it was in reality. In addition to weapons as well as basic commodities and cultural items from the time, one special gem – in fact a trade mark of the military commander – cannot be missed: a bicorne hat worn by Napoleon in his campaign against Russia. With this exhibition, Bavaria delivers an opulent programme for history enthusiasts in 2015. See for yourself from 30th April 2015!

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