{Germany} Once Upon A Time…

June 2, 2014

Kids in Museums, Germany

I’ve written before about how much we loved the MACHmit! Children’s Museum in Berlin, and last weekend we made a return visit to check out their latest exhibition, which is all about Fairy Tales. As you can see below, the outside of the building was getting in on the theme too!

Mach Mit Childrens Museum Berlin

In the lower gallery, which you entered via a door made to look like the cover of a Grimm’s Fairy Tales book, the museum had created a fairy tale forrest, with several fairy tales to discover.

Childrens Museum Fairytale Forrest

In ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ we were surprised by the big bad wolf hiding in grandmother’s bed, but also met a ‘real’ wolf and learned about what wolves eat in real life (not little children, as it turns out) and the environment that they live in. Then I was treated to a puppet show retelling of the popular fairy tale, courtesy of #MuseumBaby.

Childrens Museum Red Riding Hood

Childrens Museum Puppet Show

Next, we explored the witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel, and learned about all kinds of different herbs and the remedies that can be made from them, e.g. when you have a tummy ache or to help you sleep better. There was also some information about witches in history, and how they weren’t all wicked, wart-covered sorceresses out to do evil.

Childrens Museum Hansel & Gretel

Childrens Museum Witches Potions

There were two other fairy tales to explore, that are perhaps not as well known outside of Germany. In the ‘Bremer Stadtmusikanten’ (Town Musicians of Bremen), a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster join forces after being kicked out of their homes, outsmart some robbers, and live happily ever after enjoying their freedom as musicians in the city of Bremen. In the exhibition, the children can recreate the story as shadow puppets.

Childrens Museums Town Musicians

The fairy tale ‘Frau Holle’ (Mother Hulda) features two step-sisters, one virtuous one idle and lazy. They both end up in the world of Frau Holle and are faced with several tasks to help others, such as saving bread from the oven, picking apples or shaking out the feather beds (which is what makes it snow on Earth, in case you didn’t know). One virtuous sister, of course, helps and gets rewarded with gold, the other ends up covered in pitch. The children have the chance to show they are up to the tasks of pulling the bread from the oven (obviously play based, not a real oven!) and sorting apples. Luckily, for those that don’t fancy it the bucket of pitch that beckons from the ceiling is just for decoration…

Childrens Museum Apple Tree

Childrens Museum Sorting Apples

A nice extra touch was the historic soap shop, which is a permanent feature of the museum, but which had been transformed in to a ‘fairy tale shop’ for the exhibition. Wares on offer included props from all kinds of fairy tales, and #MuseumBaby readily sold me a golden ball (the Frog Prince), some potions, a crown, a witches hat, a poisoned comb (Snow White), some roses (Sleeping Beauty) and a broom which, as he informed me, as also good for flying!

Childrens Museum Fairytale Shop

On the upper gallery, there was the usual selection of activity stations (see my previous post for more details on how these work) – ranging from fairy tale puzzles to various fairy tale related craft activities – and the reading corner, as well as some more fairy tales to discover, including Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

#MuseumBaby dutifully helped Cinderella (or, in German, Aschenputtel) to sort the good peas from the bad ones…

Childrens Museum Cinderella

…and afterwards had a little rest in Sleeping Beauty’s bed – with the rose covered bed spread reminiscent of her German name ‘Dornröschen’ – while I read him the story from the book on the night stand.

Childrens Museum Sleeping Beauty

The final fairy tale we encountered was ‘Tischlein Deck Dich’ (The Wishing Table), features three brothers, a magical table which lays itself and donkey which spouts gold, and an evil goat. At the museum, it was featured in the cafe, where the tables did not magically lay themselves, but we did enjoy some nachos, pretzel and ice creams.

Children Museum Greedy Goat

All in all we spent a really lovely morning in the fairy tale exhibition. In addition to the fairy tale exhibits, there were also a couple of listening stations where you could listen to fairy tales being told. And I really liked how the exhibition was not only play based, but how some of the fairy tales had been set in context to teach kids a little bit e.g. about history and environment. There was also a little trail you could pick up, which led you round all the fairy tales, collecting stamps as you went along, and teaching the children about various children’s rights related to the different stories, e.g. Little Red Riding Hoods right to a life without violence, Cinderella’s right to leisure time, or Hansel and Gretel’s right to be looked after.

Childrens Museum Listening Stations

The museum is open daily except for Mondays, and admission for everyone age 3 and over is 5.50 Euro with discounts for younger kids and disabled visitors, as well as family ticket available. Further details about opening times and prices can be found on the museum website. The fairy tale exhibition runs until 7. December 2014.

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