Berlin, Dahlem, metro (U-Bahn) stationIf you get in three or four hours from Mallorca to Csömör, you will not really grasp how far you were. Therefore – in the periods when there is no direct flight – it is not bad to have that day of sluicing in Berlin, so that you have enough time to feel the taste of being on the way.

I have been planning for a while to spend this sluicing day in Dahlem. It’s a long time since I have not been to Dahlem. It was Ernő Kunt who, in the year of my anthropological detour in Miskolc, drummed into me that visiting the museum of ethnography in Dahlem is a must, as they have distinguished objects exhibited in an intelligent way. And so it was indeed. At that time, some fifteen years ago, no other exhibition employed that point light which in the dark room of the gallery drew an individual space around each object, isolating it from the context of the room and of the other objects, endowing it with a life of its own and offering it in this way for reception, thus rendering visually perceivable the concept of “autonomous work of art”. I remember the first time I was there, I stopped in the room of the Buddhas of Gandhara, and spent there all the afternoon.

Another attraction of Dahlem is that it is a Gesamtkunstwerk organizing the whole space of the museum, and even its environment as far as to the metro station. Right now it houses a number of Eastern Asian special exhibitions. Therefore the museum coffee – the large central hall of the building, from where each exhibition opens and to where they all return – decorates its tables with Japanese ikebana, Dahlem, ikebana on the table of the museum caféand in the vitrines set up in the space of the coffee a small exhibition of Eastern spices is installed. And in this period the museum bookshop is also dominated by Eastern Asian books, not only from their own stock, but also purchased from a large number of other museums of the world as well as from local antiquaries, so their offer is arguably better than that of a department library.

And at six o’clock when the exhibitions close, lectures begin for the visitors until eight, and during this period the bookshop and the coffee bar work as well. The lecture of the day was held by a lovely and well-prepared tiny Tibetan woman who reads ethnology in Berlin, dressed in a beautiful Tibetan garment. She gave a summary in a nice German about the Tibetan special exhibition, and when from time to time the adequate term did not occur to her, it also offered a good occasion for a little show of the repertoire of Eastern Asian apologizing smiles. At the end she was applauded, and I’m sure that the service she did to the cause of Tibetan culture through those hundred persons – and their friends as well as the readers of this diary – was not less than that of the exhibition itself.