Jenni’s Museum Awards 2011 (Part 2)

January 16, 2012

Travel, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Scotland

Best Temporary Exhibitions

I’ve counted 20 temporary exhibitions I visited in 2011, including ones on bathrooms, war photography, movie storyboards, Alice in Wonderland, fire and The Queen, so it’s difficult to choose, but taking into account the overall impact and interest in the subject matter, I think my three favourites are:

  1. Mammuts: Giganten der Eiszeit at the Neanderthal Museum
  2. The Hokusai Retrospektive at the Martin Gropius Bau
  3. Banished Books at the National Library of Scotland

Honourable mention to Fashion Talks at the Museum für Kommunikation, which made me laugh because I travelled all the way from Scotland to Berlin and then one of the first exhibitions I saw had a huge section on Tartan – complete with ‘design your own Tartan’ tie to print out. Brilliant!

Best Event

  1. National Museum of Scotland – As far as museum events in 2011 go, nothing much can compete with the opening of the new National Museum of Scotland in July: Japanese drummers, fireworks, and an animatronic dinosaur!
  2. Lange Nacht der Museen Berlin – My first ever visit not only to the Long Night of Museums that started them all, but to my first Long Night of Museums in any city. Despite the pouring rain I visited six different venues and had a fantastic time.
  3. Jüdisches Museum Berlin – The week of celebrations for their 10th Anniversary in October was like one big event. I went to an evening where the director of the museum was being interviewed on the ‘Jubiläumscouch’, attended a concert, and went on a behind the scenes tour of the Jewish Academy which is being built across the road.

Most Unique Experiences

  1. At the Tiflofski Muzej you can take the challenge of navigating your way round a dark room, with only hearing and touch to guide you.
  2. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum takes the interesting approach of having some of their interpretation in Scots, which isn’t fully translated, but with a glossary and within the context you can comprehend. It’s challenging though.
  3. When we entered the Niederösterreiches Landesmuseum, we wondered for a minute whether we were at the Botanic Gardens or the Zoo. Inside there permanent exhibition on nature we were greeted by huge aquaria and terraria filled with close to a hundred living fish, amphibians and reptiles.

Biggest WOW Moments

  1. Museum für Naturkunde – Our first Berlin museum visit, with seven full dinosaur skeletons, including a Brachiosaurus – the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world! You just can’t go wrong with dinosaurs.
  2. Pergamon Museum – Their special exhibition about ancient Pergamon includes a 360° panorama, 25 metres high and 103 metres in diameter. The panorama depicts a reconstruction of the ancient site, complete with a light installation to simulate day and night, and a background recording of music and sounds.
  3. National Museum of Scotland – Seeing the entire newly refurbished museum was one big WOW, from the architecture of the restored Grand Gallery, to the amazing objects on display in the different Natural World and Wold Cultures galleries. Particularly eye catching iss the Wildlife Panorama, with animals suspended the height of the building across all three animal galleries. It includes a T-rex on the ground floor, right up to a ‘flying’ Hippo level to the top floor.

Personal Highlights

  1. Being asked to photograph Concorde for National Museums Scotland’s The Concorde Experience app. I got to go inside the cockpit, the luggage hatch, and other areas usually closed off to the public – awesome!
  2. Watching a clip from the movie The Third Man on an original 1936 film projector at the Dritte Mann Museum.
  3. Being surprised by the staff at the Deutsches Currywurst Museum with a wee gift (a tin of curry powder, of course^^) when we went to visit it on my birthday.

Personal Favourites

  1. National Museum of Scotland – It was my first love, and still is: beautiful architecture, amazing exhibits that make you go ‘wow’, wonderful galleries for young children, very accessible with good facilities for families, if only they offered gluten free cake it would be perfect. Working there was a dream come true.
  2. Deutsches Röntgen Museum – The inspiration for Adopt-a-Museum. Highly interesting, interactive throughout, and shockingly undervisited. And there’s a chocolate treat for those who pay attention.
  3. Neanderthal Museum – Take an interactive journey back through time in the exhibition, visit the discovery site of the Neanderthal nearby, or take a walk along the art trail. A visit here is always a pleasure.

Honorary Mention for Best ‘Hidden Treasure’ Discovery goes to the Dritte Man Museum in Vienna, the world’s only museum dedicated entirely to one single movie.

For an overview of all the museums I visited in 2011, see 52 Museums in 52 Weeks.

For Part 1 of the Museum Awards 2011,  including Best Food, Best Audio Guides, Most Accessible Venue, Most Interactive Visit, Friendliest Staff Experience, and Most Curious Collections, see Jenni’s Museum Awards 2011 (Part 1).


Please note that these are entirely personal recommendations and assessments. Also, I did not visit all the special exhibitions hosted in 2011 by the museums listed, nor did I attend events at all the venues. So, just because a museum is not mentioned here does not mean it had boring exhibitions or bad event, or that it lacked unique experiences or wow moments. It’s just a small selection of my personal highlights.

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