{Germany} [Probe]Räume at the Märkisches Museum in Berlin

June 19, 2017

Kids in Museums, Germany

Last month, I was invited by the Stadtmuseum Berlin to the launch of their new exhibition [Probe]Räume at the Märkisches Museum. The museum is preparing to go through a redevelopment, with expected closures from 2020 onwards, and is using the time in the run up to that to experiment with new formats – [Probe]Räume literally means [Rehearsal]Rooms.

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The exhibition, on the second floor of the museum, revisits the founding principles of the museum of collecting, researching and curating, and reinterprets them for the present day, making the leap from an place of presenting to a place of interacting and participating.

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[Probe]Räume is an exhibition, where visitors can playfully discover the themes presented collecting, researching, presenting, restoring, curating, organising, comparing…) regardless of aged, interests or background knowledge. Set within the overarching themes of ‘History of Berlin in the Middle Ages’ and ‘Childhood and Daily Life 1900’, there are around 500 exhibits to explore.

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Highlights include, for example, a model of the Medieval ‘twin’ cities Berlin and Collin. As it’s not possible to allow visitors to touch the model, 3D replicas had been produced, which are placed around the outside of the model for visitors to explore. Next to each replica, a flat can be lifted to show more information and photographs.

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Another highlight, are the original wooden school benches from around 1900, which visitors are invited to sit on – various interactive stations around the room also invite you to try your hand at different implements and methods of writing, through the ages, such as wax tablets, quills, or even Braille.

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A staged depot shows Medieval objects, just as they would be stored in a real museum depot, to illustrate and explain some of the processes that go in to curating a gallery or exhibition. I also really liked how the exhibition approach the topic of restoration, for example a wooden icon of Jesus Christ was juxtaposed with a display case showing different kinds of woodworm and their effect on historical wooden objects.

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In a room dedicated to the theme of research – an important part of museum work – visitors can browse a small library of books, including a selection of books for children. There is also a replica of a Medieval map, that children (and those at heart) can recreate the historic city on, using building blocks.

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At the heart of [Probe]Räume, is a so-called ‘Aktionsraum’ – a room that invite visitors to get active, by becoming curators themselves, for example by arranging objects and materials in to displays. Or you can apply to create your own ‘mini exhibition in a box’ which will then go on display – to take part, simply contact mitmachen@stadtmuseum.de. Last but not least, you can upload a photograph of your first day of school, to become part of the museums collection.

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All in all, I think this is a great exhibition for both children and adults to get an insight in to how museums work! It is now part of the permanent exhibition, and will run at least until the renovation start. The Märkisches Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 6pm, with special opening times on some public holidays. Admission is 6 Euros (concessions 4 Euros), with free admission for under 18s and free admission for everyone on the 1st Wednesday of the month! All further details can be found on the museum’s website.

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