Fairy Tale Forest Celebrates Brothers Grimm at DANK Haus

By Patty Wetli | Thursday, March 29, 2012

A new exhibit at DANK Haus celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm. Credit: Patty Wetli

What would Walt Disney, or for that matter all of Hollywood, do without the Brothers Grimm? No Cinderella, no Sleeping Beauty, no Snow White. No Pretty Woman, no Tangled, no Mirror Mirror (which might not be such a bad thing.) It’s been 200 years since the first publication of fairy tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and, as a new exhibit at DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave., demonstrates, we’re as enchanted as ever.

Marchenwelten represents the first major collaboration between DANK and the Goethe-Institut Chicago, both of which aim to bring German tradition and culture to Chicago. The exhibit, which runs through April 21, is one of a handful touring the world for the Grimm bicentennial, having just arrived at DANK from Toronto.

“What made a good story then makes a good story now,” said Katja Fullard, head of language development at the Goethe-Institut, explaining the universal and lasting appeal of the Grimms.

In exploring various fairy tale themes and archetypes–heroes and villains, evil and magic–Marchenwelten draws a direct connection between the Grimms and modern stories, from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings and even Angelina Jolie. (Heroine or witch? You be the judge.)

Though the exhibit, which consists of large wooden trees and various interactive components, is mainly in German, DANK will have a bilingual interpreter on hand to assist the Deutsch-challenged, according to Nicholle Dombrowski, executive director of DANK Haus. More than 200 students have already registered to tour the exhibit.

“We hope that we can entertain little children and big children,” said Fullard, who attended the exhibit’s grand opening March 28. “Perhaps somebody will say, ‘These stories are so cool, I need to learn German.’”

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