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Kreuzberg Museum as a Mirror of Society

Kreuzberg Museum as a Mirror of Society

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Published by Vahide Goktas

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Published by: Vahide Goktas on Feb 23, 2012
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02/23/2012

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CF.221Modern Art and DesignWinter, 2011
Vahide Gökta
ş
 2006.13.02.007Advertising / Communication Design
 Kreuzberg Museum as a Mirror of Society
 Berlin has a special position with its historical and cultural developmentthrough its migration history. Kreuzberg Museum is a heimat museum, andlocated in Berlin
ʼ
s most multicultural neighbourhood in Kreuzberg. Heimatmuseums concentrate on dealing with local history of a district where themuseum is located. Kreuzberg Museum operates as a migration museum anddocuments different “waves” of migration into Kreuzberg (Turkish,Vietnamese, Bosnian) through time. This context will focus on finding howKreuzberg Museum works and represents itself as a mirror of its society andDiasporas.Kreuzberg is a district in Berlin, where a multicultural structure providesrather different aspects on its inhabitants. Before the wall came down,Kreuzberg was a ghetto district where immigrants lived. Today, Kreuzbergattracts artists, students, musicians, tourists and young people who enjoy thearea
ʼ
s old, colorful streets, ethnic shops, interesting atmosphere and nightlifeat one side. On the other hand, Kreuzberg is considered by many people asdangerous and that it is taken by foreigners. Conservative party tries to iniatepropagandas to provoke voters in Kreuzberg to “make Germans feel that theyare in Germany”. However, most of German people left this area because it isincreasingly populated by immigrants. Considerable numbers of Germanfamilies refuse to send their children to schools where mostly children of
 
immigrant families attend.“Kreuzberg Museum” is located in the middle of Kreuzberg, a three-minute walk from the subway station “Kottbusser Tor”. Kreuzberg used tobelong to West - Berlin when the city was divided. The district is ethnicallyvery diverse. By far, the largest and the most visible minority group is Turks,who are even a majority in some of its neighbourhoods. Kreuzberg Museum isthe third of its kind that concentrates on local history of migration.Cooperation between Kreuzberg Museum and Kreuzberg e.V isfounded in 1991. Migration and its local and international understanding havebeen a focus of the work association for the history of Kreuzberg e.V.Kreuzberg e.V together with Kreuzberg Museum organized a large exhibitionon the history of migration in today's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district ofBerlin. Permanent exhibitions in the museum, "Geschichte wird gemacht", onthe urban development after 1945 and "...ein jeder nach seiner Fasson? ", on300 years of migration to the urban area of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.The entrance of the museum garden has two out-door signboards. Firstone is an announcement of a “Saz Bar” which is placed inside the museum.This is an interesting example on the account of redefining and re-establishingnew borders between traditions and functionality. This might yield to questionconservatism, contemporary solutions and the dynamics between them.Second signboard, is an announcement of the recent exhibits where it alsostates: “
entrance is free 
”. There is a play garden for children and a smallgreen area. There are little lights from the garden door to the museum doorlike an 80
ʼ
s kitschy ballroom entrance. The building of the museum, whichwas once a factory, offers an authentic historical background. KreuzbergMuseum offers a way to understand the historical process of the Kreuzberg
ʼ
sbirth and development. The permanent exhibitions of the Kreuzberg Museumdisplay the history of the neighborhood and its people since the early 18thcentury -an extensive archive of regional and district history under themuseum
ʼ
s subject, especially on migration and urban development. But there
 
is a critical error about the museum
ʼ
s language. However the largest and mostvisible minority group is Turkish people, every single written documents in themuseum is in German. The exhibition uses also visual language but it isdefinitely not enough to understand the whole conten. When I talked with oneof the workers in the museum, she was telling me that the director doesn
ʼ
tcare of non – German speakers. It was a confusing comment in such amuseum, which is located in the heart of Berlin, in the heart of Kreuzberg, inthe heart of multicultarism.When I had a look into the guest book of the museum, there were a lotof impressions from Turkish people but the impression very different from anykind of museum
ʼ
s guest book. Some of them wrote that this museum remindsthem a lot about their past in Kreuzberg. They said, it is very exciting for themto have something, which belongs to them and which tells about a part fromtheir life and history in Berlin. They have also wishes from the museum like“please change the Kreuzberg
ʼ
s dangerous appearance”. There werediscussions between Turkish and Kurdish people about the PKK or nationalistassumptions that they have carried on to the guest book. It seems like thismuseum is also a place to discuss the political issues between Turkish andKurdish people.It is a common perception that migration is seen as a threat for ahomogenity of society. Governments in Europe apply several programs totheir immigrants for integration. It is a big question for everybody whetherthese programs work. Kreuzberg Museum with its building, garden, curation,entrée, founding, education programs, special programs for immigrantchildren and families, exhibits its local history through migration distinctivelyfrom other local museums. The whole content and context of the museumalso opens up a question, how migration should represent itself from a localperspective and how Kreuzberg Museum represents itself as a mirror ofsociety and district.

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