My name is Brianna Selph, I am a lover of all things German and, since September, an at the DDR Museum.
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah but live in a city called Provo to study at Brigham Young University. When I was 19 years old, I took a year and a half off from my studies, moved around Germany, Austria and Switzerland, attempted to learn German, immersed myself in German culture and marveled as my passion for German history grew. Upon returning to university I decided to study History and German Studies and am currently a year away from finishing my bachelor’s degree. After my bachelors, I plan to pursue a master’s program in Museum Studies. I love the role museums that museums, particularly history museums, have in society and in the learning process.
I was drawn to the DDR Museum not only because I find DDR history fascinating, but also because the DDR Museum has the reputation as one of the world’s best interactive museums. I loved the DDR Museum’s motto, “a hands-on experience of history,” because of the active role it encourages its visitors to take in their learning. The personalized physical experiences visitors have with history allow them to “take” something home with them after they leave the museum. History becomes real through personal interaction in museums and therefore impacts visitors lives more than a lecture, book, tour or movie can.
These types of experiences are what excite me about museums. In September 2018, I started my internship at the DDR Museum, mainly working in the Press and Public Relations department but also trying my hand at other areas of museum work. I’ve translated text panels, ran social media campaigns, participated in various events, helped take down and set up the cabinet exhibit, researched and contacted travel guide publishing houses to promote nineties berlin and spent a week in the collections familiarzing myself with a new storage and database system. Through these experiences, I’ve seen how each department and employee contribute to one overarching goal: to create a museum for people to learn and enjoy.
One of the best parts of my internship has been my involvement with the cabinet exhibit “Born in ’89 – The Children of the Change” that opened on November 9th, 2018. In October, I participated in the workshop with the popular German magazine SUPERillu and the “Wendekinder” (children of the change) whose interviews are the foundation of the exhibit. I took pictures and helped write the blog post (click here!) summarizing the workshop. In the month between the workshop and the opening, I planned our social media stories and posts that were used to promote the temporary exhibit's opening. Once the time came to change out the exhibit, I helped with packing up the artifacts from the previous exhibit, cleaned out and then placed the new artifacts in the cases. This exhibit is unique in that it highlights people who never actually grew up in the DDR but were born in the year the Wall fell. The creation process of this exhibit showed me how to be creative in exhibit ideas and social media plans as well as just how much work goes into the success of an exhibition.
My time interning at the DDR Museum has taught me a lot. I have learned more about public history, about the GDR and the decade that followed as well as the importance of museums in our society and the complex work that goes into a great museum. I am grateful for the opportunities the DDR Museum allowed me to have through my internship!