DDR Museum

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The museum's logo
living room in the DDR
Photographic films and cameras made in East Germany (GDR).

The DDR Museum is a museum in the centre of Berlin. The museum is located in the former governmental district of East Germany, right on the river Spree, opposite the Berlin Cathedral. The museum is the 11th most visited museum in Berlin.[1]

Its exhibition depicts life in the former East Germany (known in German as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) in a direct "hands-on" way. For example, a covert listening device ("bug") gives visitors the sense of being "under surveillance".[2] One can also try DDR clothes on in the recreated Tower Block apartment, change TV channels or use an original typewriter. The exhibition has three themed areas: “Public Life”; “State and Ideology” and “Life in a Tower Block”.[3] Each of them is presented under a critical light: the positives as well as the negatives sides of the DDR are explored in this exhibition. A total of 35 modules illustrate these three themes: Media, literature, music, culture, family, private niche, health, equality, diet, childhood, youth, partnership, fashion, border, Berlin, tra c, education, work, consumption, construction, living, free time, vacation, environment, party, Ministry for State Security, economy, state, ideology, army, brother states, wall, opposition, penal system and authority.

The museum was opened on July 15, 2006, as a private museum. Private funding is unusual in Germany, because German museums are normally funded by the state. The museum met some opposition from state-owned museums, who considered possibly "suspect" a private museum and were concerned that the museum could be used as an argument to question the public funding of museums in general.[4]

In 2008, the DDR Museum was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award.[5]

Exhibition highlights[edit]

  • Recreated WBS 70 tower block flat with five rooms
  • Cinema
  • Prison cell
  • Surveillance room
  • Interrogation room
  • Nursery

Special exhibits[edit]

  • the car "Trabant" with a driving simulation
  • motion-ride "elevator"
  • Volvo limousine 264 TE (from the ministerial car pool)
  • Mural "Praise of Communism" by Ronald Paris
  • Records of food shortage, school books
  • 1 Megabit-chip
  • printing press from the "Umweltbibliothek"

In general, the exhibition does not focus on every single individual exhibit, but rather on the overall atmosphere, emotions and reflections conveyed. According to the DDR Museum, the collection contains more than 250,000 objects. One can find the object database on the museum's website.

Design of the Exhibition[edit]

The visitor is entering the first part of the exhibition via an entrance platform. He will discover an estate of prefabricated buildings on a scale of 1:20. The prefabricated buildings are both room dividers and showcase cabinets at the same time. In the second part of the exhibition visitors experience the “semicircle of power” where it's clear to see: The Party is the center of everything. This center is surrounded by a semicircle of different topics such as “Politics” and “Political System”. The visitor can open doors, hatches and drawers and will gain detailed insights behind the facade of the socialist dictatorship. In the third part of the permanent exhibition, a completely furnished Plattenbau apartment shows the private life in the GDR. A children's room, a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a Stasi control room as well as a garage can be explored and experienced freely.

History of the museum[edit]

The DDR Museum project was brought to life by the ethnologist Peter Kenzelmann from Freiburg. According to the media, he had searched for a museum about the DDR on a trip to Berlin, but had found none. He therefore decided to fill the gap and so the museum opened its doors on the 15. July 2006. The director of the museum is Gordon Freiherr von Godin, who came into position in 2016, and the academic director is Dr. Stefan Wolle.

The museum celebrated its first anniversary on the 14. July 2007 and announced that it had welcomed 180.000 visitors during that first year. The DDR Museum was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2008 and 2012. The German National Tourist Board (DZT) conducted a survey and the DDR Museum came 44th in the ranking of Germany’s top 100 attractions in 2015 and 36th in 2016. The museum welcomed its 500.000th visitor on 26. August 2008 and its millionth visitor on 23. December 2009. The second part of the permanent exhibition opened on 10. October 2010, introducing new themes, objects and interactive platforms. By 14. September 2015, the museum had welcomed 4.000.000 visitors.

The DDR Museum celebrated its tenth anniversary on the 14. July 2016. The third part of the permanent exhibition opened in August 2016, which consists of a recreated WBS-70 tower block flat. Here as well, visitors have the opportunity to interact and try out the many installations.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Rückel (ed.): GDR-Guide: everyday life of a long-gone state in 22 chapters. Berlin: DDR Museum Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-939801-14-6.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Senate Chancellery of Berlin [1]. Accessed 2009-12-17.
  2. ^ Richard Bernstein, International Herald Tribune, 2006-07-21. In a Berlin museum, under surveillance. Accessed 2009-06-18.
  3. ^ "Website of the DDR Museum". www.ddr-museum.de. Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  4. ^ Catherine Hickley, Bloomberg.com, 2006-07-14. New Berlin Museum Portrays Daily Life in Communist East Germany. Accessed 2009-06-18.
  5. ^ Die Welt, 2008-01-12, DDR-Museum für europäischen Museumspreis nominiert. Accessed 2009-06-18.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°31′8.5″N 13°24′8″E / 52.519028°N 13.40222°E / 52.519028; 13.40222