Martor No. 23 / Year 2018

Objects + Things = Stuff. A Visitor’s Guide to Berlin’s Museum der Dinge

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Author: Jasmina Al-Qaisi

About the author:
Jasmina Al-Qaisi
Archivist and Researcher, SAVVY Contemporary Art and Project Space
alqaisijasmina at gmail dot com

Pages: 201-206

Keywords: museum, visual anthropology, objects, things, Berlin, interactive, testimony, Deutscher Werkbund, Museum der Dinge.

Museology has shifted its focus in some places of the world: artefacts and historical objects are being repatriated, returned as permanent loans, institutions are questioning the ownership of indigenous objects, selections are made by kids, and texts are being written by visitors. The following case study discusses the reprioritization of a dynamic imagination around a museum’s purpose in a jejune way, from the perspective of an independent cultural worker, trained in visual communication and schooled in visual ethnography. The text, a non-linear narrative of the visitor’s experience, is interspersed with excerpts from a recorded conversation between two visitors of the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin. The Museum of Things does more than try to find a place for the Werkbund “stuff,” it opens up a continuous material dialogue that includes different perspectives on the history of design in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Founded in Munich, in 1907, the Deutscher Werkbund or the German Association of Craftsmen was the organisation of artists, artisans and architects that strove to ensure good design and craftsmanship in times of mass-production of goods and architecture. The Made in Germany label is commonly associated with durable products and viable design precisely due to the work of the Deutscher Werkbund, which made efforts to create those associations linked today with German architecture or industrial, commercial, and household German products. A visit to this museum can last forever due to the extra satirical layer, combining ethnographic methods with personal narratives. This text is a sample of a specific visitor experience in an unusual educational institution that, using almost exclusively analogue methods, reaches remarkable levels of interactivity.

How to cite this article: Al-Qaisi, Jasmina. 2018. “Objects + Things = Stuff. A Visitor’s Guide to Berlin’s Museum der Dinge.” Martor 23: 201-206. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2018.23.11]