Tomorrow is the 23rd anniversary of the fall of the Wall - and to coincide with that, our new "Years of Change" exhibition has gone online.
A few months ago we were approached by Google, who wanted to know if we would be interested in creating an exhibition on the subject of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. The decision to say "Yes" was easy, the question of "How" was a bit more tricky at first. Our Museum is primarily concerned with life in the GDR, the everyday life of ordinary people. Our exhibition ends with the fall of the Wall. Of course we know how people reacted to the last few weeks of the GDR, the "Wende" ("transition"), reunification and the time that followed, from discussions with numerous people who experienced them. But there is no scope for presenting these views, opinions and sense of atmosphere in our permanent exhibition. An online exhibition gave us a fantastic opportunity to tell the story of this exciting and important time. And in order to preserve our focus on the everyday, we decided to do it in the form of the diary of a GDR citizen. This citizen is fictional, created, completely made up, and is called Uwe Neumann. He is neither a hero nor a fanatical SED-supporter, nor is he an intellectual, although he has a good grasp of people and events. He goes with the flow and tries to make the best of his life. He himself never existed, but he is typical of many who did and in that sense he is immortal. He tells us about his life at a time of radical change, about demonstrations in the Alexanderplatz, about the fall of the Wall, about queuing for the "Welcome Money" and "Modrow-purchases".
The texts have been written by Dr Stefan Wolle and are supplemented by photos, eyewitness reports and a number of objects from our archives that have never been displayed before. Our permanent exhibition allows us to show only a fraction of the objects in our care, so this project gives us a unique opportunity to draw attention to some of the other treasures in our archive.
At this point we would like to thank our donors again, who, between them, have donated over 200,000 objects to the Museum.
Our director, Herr Rückel, explains a further benefit of this online exhibition: "Most of all, the project gives the DDR Museum the opportunity to interest people in GDR history, no matter where they live or what time zone they are in. There are many people who cannot come to Berlin and visit the DDR Museum in person. But as a result of the collaboration between us and the Google Cultural Institute we can now take our objects, images and texts to them in their own homes. Experiencing history should always be enjoyable, whether it's done remotely or in person in our exhibition rooms."
This co-operation with the Google Cultural Institute is a major step for us in reaching new audiences and getting them excited about history. The new section on "The Fall of the Iron Curtain" on the website of the Google Cultural Institute gives access to a total of 13 exhibitions from Germany, Poland and Romania, offering differing perspectives on the events before and after the fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989. Apart from the DDR Museum the only other participant from Germany is the Robert Havemann Gesellschaft.
For now the exhibition is available in German and English. Translations into a number of other languages are planned.
So click on the link and take a look at Uwe Neumann's diary.
What are your thoughts about what he writes? Is the glass half full or half empty?
You can see the official launch film by clicking here.
Author: Paula Kirby
And thanks again to Paula! She is a contemporary witness working on her first book and if you like to, you can follow her on twitter!