A main focus of the research conducted at the Kunsthistorisches Institut - Max Planck Institute
in 2004 was the art and culture of the city of Genoa in its Mediterranean context. In 2004, the seaport was one of Europe's two designated cultural capitals, along with the city of Lille. Within the framework of this event, an exposition took place in Genoa that allowed a small team from the institute both to realize the first step in a major research project and to present the project to a broader public. The exposition was entitled Mandylion: Intorno al Sacro Volto, da Bisanzio a Genova
; its underlying concept was developed by researchers at the institute who launched the show jointly with colleagues from the University of Genoa. A single object, the Genoa Mandylion, was the focal point of the exposition, its significance being underscored by an encounter with an icon from St. Catharine's monastery in the Sinai. This approach allowed a particularly strong linkage of research with the public presentation of the results - a combination of great interest for future projects at the Institute for Art History.