Gerhard Lutz welcomes the challenge of translating medieval art for a modern audience. For almost 20 years, he has interpreted the collection of the Dommuseum Hildesheim in an 11th-century German cathedral. “People no longer have much of a relationship with the medieval past beyond the crucifix,” says Lutz, who joined the staff in May as the Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art. “One point of entry is to show them how folks in medieval times faced the same issues we do, like dealing with natural catastrophes and worrying about loved ones. They were driven by many of the same anxieties and questions we have today.”
Lutz visited Cleveland in 2016 for a study day he organized for medieval experts to discuss the CMA’s Guelph Treasure objects, which relate to the arts of medieval Hildesheim. The range of the CMA’s collection appeals to him. “I have been working with a collection that developed over 1,200 years, and it is a local history. Most of the objects were made in Hildesheim or arrived there centuries ago,” he says. “The biggest change for me is that now I will work with a collection that is much broader in its time and its geographical horizon. That is a central motivation for me.”
Curator at the Dommuseum Hildesheim since 2002, Lutz was appointed associate director in 2016. There he curated exhibitions such as Picture and Beast: Hildesheim Bronzes from the Staufer Period and, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim.
“It is a logical step for me to transition from the Hildesheim museum and its concentration on the city to a much broader collection and approach,” he says. “To come to Cleveland is exciting.”
Lutz received his MA and PhD at the Technical University Berlin, after studying medieval art history and archaeology at the universities of Bamberg, Vienna, and Freiburg. “In your career you have points where you want new input and a new perspective; I am still curious and looking for something new,” he says. “It is a big change for me, but I will be with old friends in the Cleveland collection.”