From the museum

New exhibits in the DDR Museum

Following its closure due to the accident caused by the burst »AquaDom« aquarium, the DDR Museum has recently taken the chance to renew parts of its exhibition. In this blog post, we present the modernised and new parts of the exhibition. by Alexandra de León (3 May 2023)

16 December 2022 will remain in the memory of the DDR Museum for a long time. Parts of the museum had to be repaired and restored following the accident involving the burst »AquaDom« aquarium of the Radisson Collection Hotel. The temporary closure of the DDR Museum, however, also opened up the opportunity to redesign parts of the exhibition in terms of both content and design. The long-awaited reopening took place on 1 April 2023. An overview of the new exhibits and interactive elements can be found in this blog post.

Showcase special exhibition DDR Museum Berlin

A look into the collection – changing exhibits from the depot 

Collecting cultural and historical objects is a central task of the DDR Museum. However, it would be an impossible task to exhibit our collection of over 300,000 different objects. To give our visitors an insight into the depths of our depot, the collection team instead presents new exhibits in a display case located right at the entrance in front of the ticket office. This section aims to excite visitors about their visit before they enter the museum.

The Path of a State – An overview of GDR history

The permanent exhibition opens with a summary of the history of the GDR. Here visitors are given a brief overview of the GDR, from its founding as a product of the unconditional surrender and the resulting occupation by the allied powers up to the reunification of Germany in 1990.

The »Anti-Fascist Protection Wall« – Wall and wall diorama

With this basic knowledge, visitors are led to the new wall diorama, which shows the meticulously guarded border area (also known as the »Anti-Fascist Protection Wall« in the GDR) that separated the two states and is considered to be the most significant consequence of the division of Germany, both for the GDR and the Federal Republic. The widespread view that the Wall consisted of a singular wall is figuratively countered here by the prepared miniatures of the various barrier installations and border areas. A highlight of this new exhibition section can be seen behind the wall diorama – an original 6-metre-long piece of the Berlin Wall. Close observers will notice that it is not 3.60 metres in height. The structure had to be shortened to 2.70 metres due to the space available.

Wall and Wall Diorama DDR Museum Berlin

An overview of the four occupation zones in Germany 

On the right wall behind the entrance to the permanent exhibition is a map of occupied Berlin and Germany, complete with four exhibits representing each of the victorious powers. The accompanying text provides information on the reasons that led to the eventual division of the defeated nation.

German Division

The next section of the museum explores the division of Germany, how it was dealt with and the consequences for the GDR population. Among other things, political measures such as »Aktion Ungeziefer« (Operation Vermin) are explained, which gradually made the border more impassable, without ignoring the experiences of those affected. The fold-out compartments reveal various installations and exhibits, such as a typical passport control, border crossing points and an exemplary escape suitcase.

The GDR made compact using Wh-questions

The central GDR compact module provides visitors with answers to the typical Wh-questions (When?, Where?, What?, Why?, How?, Who?, How much?). The exhibit classifies the GDR historically, geographically and ideologically, and establishes important base knowledge for the subsequent elements of the exhibition. 

The GDR propaganda billboard

The poster wall is an aesthetic highlight of the DDR Museum. Here, various propaganda posters hidden in the pull-out drawers are analysed in terms of their socialist mission statement. From the illustration of a bus full of children to the advertisement of working-class fighting groups, these posters can be examined in this context.

The SR 59 »Berlin« scooter

Scooter enthusiasts can now marvel over the SR 59 »Berlin«, the predecessor of the SR 56 »Wiesel«. Due to insufficient passenger car production, which led to long waiting times, mopeds, motorbikes and scooters were a popular alternative mode of transport in the GDR.

Exhibition DDR Museum

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)

The SED played an essential role in the GDR as a single party. Thus, we have dedicated a new section of the museum to this topic, which provides information about the forced unification of the SPD and KPD to form the SED, as well as about the role of the party in the GDR.

An overview of the most important organisations in the GDR

Right next door, visitors are invited to learn about the numerous state organisations of the GDR. Rotating elements here are marked with the organisations’ respective logos. Behind each logo are factual details about the individual groups, such as the Free German Youth, the Free German Trade Union and the National Front. 

A timeline of the GDR in comparison with world events

The detailed timeline, which positions global events and those of the GDR in a comparative geopolitical way, is accompanied by photos of the most important milestones of the Republic as well as world events, thus illustrating the simultaneous nature of realities and their happenings.

Exhibition DDR Museum Overview Chronicle and Organisations

A glossary of GDR terms

The glossary, which is often found at the end of books, is actually available at the beginning of the permanent exhibition of the DDR Museum to provide an overview and definition of GDR-specific terms, encouraging a better understanding of the exhibition.

The special exhibition at the heart of the permanent exhibition

Our new special exhibition display case – located at the heart of the DDR Museum’s permanent exhibition – showcases different objects from our collection that are swapped out on a regular basis. In addition to exciting objects from our own extensive collection, loans also find their way into the permanent exhibition. This ensures that visitors are given as comprehensive an understanding of the different historical contexts as possible. The exhibits currently on display – together with our latest publication »GDR Daily Life in 200 Objects« – show a cross-section of the museum’s collection with numerous stories about the everyday objects depicted. 

Showcase Special Exhibition "GDR Daily Life in 200 Objects" DDR Museum Berlin

The façade of the Centrum Warenhaus

In the group entrance area next to the ticket office an unmistakable piece of a façade protrudes sharply from the wall. This original piece of the façade of the famous Centrum Warenhaus department store on Berlin's Alexanderplatz once belonged to the building that is now home to Galeria Kaufhof. The iconic honeycomb façade was replaced by a sandstone façade in 2004/2005. 

The lift for barrier-free access to the museum

And last but not least, during the renovation period we installed a lift for people with mobility impairments. The DDR Museum can now be experienced barrier-free without any restrictions.

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