An August 2008 trip
to Berlin by Owen Lipsett
Quote: This journal discusses four of my favorite museums from a trip to Berlin as well as unraveling its incomparable Museum Island, to see a discussion of monuments, please see the companion journal, "Berlin Monuments."
Attraction | "Museum Island - Berlin's Cultural Heart"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2009
Museum Island Berlin/Museumsinsel
Central Mitte District, Spree River
Attraction | "A Moving Experience"
Jewish Museum Berlin (Jüdisches Museum)
Berlin, Germany 10969
+49 (30) 25993-300
Attraction | "A Museum of Daily Life in East Germany"
The result is surprisingly unpolitical and often humorous, and not always intentionally so. For every dully informative exhibit, for example a listing of the comparative wages of various professions in East Germany (bricklayers were paid more than many college-educated professionals), there’s a funny one, such as an intriguing discussion of the popularity of nudism at East German resorts (apparently the government didn’t mind this as it was a way to allow its oppressed citizens to play out their fantasies of rebellion). Many of the exhibits are highly tactile and interactive. One of the most humorous of these is opportunity to simulate driving a "Trabi" (short for Trabant), East Germany’s ubiquitous and much beloved plastic-bodied cars that were both prone to breakdowns and easy to repair. The museum is quite small and feels even more so since the exhibits are bunched together in a single large low-ceilinged room, although I think that this adds to the sense of claustrophobia and being trapped that East Germany’s citizens must have felt. Certainly, if the sample apartment in the museum is anything to go by, their dwellings were quite physically small too!
Visiting the DDR museum is an enjoyable experience but one with limits. It’s enjoyable and amazingly (considering the terror of living under a brutal regime) more often humorous or endearing than terrifying. I suppose that the regime’s cruelty and vast spy network (children were encouraged to spy on and denounce their parents), which encompassed as many as one in seven East Germans, is relatively well known to most visitors, but I still expected it to be covered in greater depth. Similarly, I suspect that political history and crackdowns would have had a more important effect on people’s daily lives (certainly based on information at the German Historical Museum) than is suggested here. As such, it might better be called "the museum of East German life" or "the museum of East German culture" since it largely eschews dealing with political issues. With this caveat, it’s a fascinating place to spend an hour or two in and a particularly interesting one for children since there are any number of things visitors are encouraged to touch, use, and examine.
The DDR Museum is located at Karl-Liebnecht Strasse 1, along the River Spree opposite the Cathedral and is open daily 10 am to 8 pm (until 10 pm on Saturdays).
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2009
+4930-847 123 73
Attraction | "The Best Museum on Museum Island"
Attraction | "An Authoritative Introduction to German History"
Deutsches Historisches Museum
Unter den Linden 2
Berlin, Germany 10117
+49 (30) 20304-444
New York, New York