From Athena to Hera

The exhibition ‘From Athena to Hera’ presents the life and work of Gisela Weyde (1894 Košice – 1984 Halle, Germany), with a focus on the 1920s. Weyde’s art production has been documented very sporadically, and her work in art history and conservation has enjoyed only marginal attention. Most materials have been preserved in archives in Bratislava, Dresden and Budapest.
An art historian, painter, graphic artist, archaeologist, publicist and restorer, Gisela Leweke-Weyde was instrumental in the development of inter-war art in Slovakia. In 1921, she was the first woman to complete a doctorate degree in classical archaeology at the University of Vienna. In 1923, she was the first woman to be hired as an (assistant) curator at the Municipal Museum in Bratislava. Her curatorial work made her aware of the great importance of passing knowledge about art on to young people. As a result, she initiated and carried out the first educational activity at the museum in Slovakia: the so-called museum class took place on 25 February 1928. Wyede published over 150 articles and scientific studies in the area of art history and art conservation and wrote several books on Bratislava-based artists and monuments, which drew attention to the values of Bratislava. Weyde became the first passionate fighter for preserving these architectural and artistic gems of the town. The new research has also brought a bibliography of Weyde´s works.
Weyde also took an active part in community life. At the beginning of 1922, she was the first woman art historian to lecture in Toldy-Circle in Bratislava (the subject of her lecture was Art of Ancient Greece), and on 28 October 1922, the first woman ever to lecture in the scientific society Urania. Weyde was also actively engaged in the activities of the Bratislava Art Society. In 1928, she became the first chairwoman of the Bratislava branch of the International Federation of Friends of Young Women (Fédération internationale des amies de la jeune fille) established in 1877 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, with the intention to protect travelling young women against sexual exploitation.
Even after five years of working at the Municipal Museum in Bratislava, Weyde still did not get a full-time job. Unable to support herself, she left for Halle and started to study art restoration. On 9 December 1929, she married Fritz Leweke and decided to focus primarily on the family. With her peculiar humour, she characterised her career as a journey from a bluestocking to a housewife or as a journey from Athena to Hera.