Greetings from Berlin IV
The Museum Neukölln – Small but Nice
I want to present you another of my favorite museums in Berlin, the Museum Neukölln. “Neukölln” is a deprived urban area in the south of the city with a high unemployment. Over the last years a lot of small galleries and pubs have opened in the northern part of the borough and have attracted a new clientele. Two years ago the museum moved from the rather tough centre of Neukölln to a truly idyllic place: a former estate. While approaching the quite impressive building where the exhibition is situated, you can caress the back of a sheep or the beard of a goat.
The space of the museum is, like before, quite limited. But this has never been a disadvantage for the curators, on the contrary, I nearly never saw such concentrated exhibitions elsewhere. With the new permanent exhibition, called “99x Neukölln”, the team ensured its reputation.
99 objects are presented in the purest fashion possible: they are put in the showcases without a single text or label of any kind. Just things placed on white cubes. Well, you think, but there MUST be more information! And right you are.
The visitors find detailed information on monitors which they can move around and along the showcases: in the moment they place the monitor in front of a certain object the adequate information appear.
On the picture you can see a friend of mine reading the story of the two puppets in the showcase. An American soldier bought them in Neukölln after the war. He was in love with a German girl who was too young to get married. So he waited for her for years and finally their love story found a happy end. On the screen you first learn more about the couple, you see a photograph of their wedding and read one of their love letters. But then, diving deeper (and indeed the moveable monitors remind me on look-outs of submarines), you get more information about the end of World War II in the borough.
Every information pack follows this principle: starting with a personal story or a concrete example, giving then more general information, accompanied by lots of historical photographs, documents and audio records.
On the equal level you can find also comments and memories of visitors. Via a flyer presented at the entrance all visitors are invited to write down their stories and associations evoked by the 99 objects. If they want to learn more about the things, they are invited to visit the “History Attic” above the exhibition room, where they can find more material. It is not meant as a contact point only for history freaks but as a vital part of the museum for which working together with the population of the area is essential.
Do you want to know which one was my favorite object? It was the molar tooth of a mammoth. At first my friend and I did not know at all what this bizarre object was. Reading on the screen that this was part of a mammoth really flashed me, I think, because it laid there in such a modest way among the other objects mainly from the 19th and 20th century. As if it tried hard not to boast: “Look at me! I am circa 20,000 years old, you BABIES!”