{Germany} The Culture & Art of Skateboarding

January 20, 2014


I love it when my quest to visit unusual museums and hidden gems introduces me to a topic I’d previously never given a second thought to, and it then turns out to be highly fascinating. Such as skateboards. I have a terrible sense of balance, and the closest I’ve ever gotten to a skateboard is dodging the skaters on Bristo Square at Edinburgh University. But last year, I visited a preview exhibition at Berlin’s Lange Nacht der Museen, for the Skateboard Museum that will hopefully open its doors in 2014.

skateboard museum history

The museum had previously been located in Stuttgart, but sadly closed its doors in 2012 after nine years. A rebirth of the museum is now envisaged in the Stadtbad Wedding in Berlin, a former swimming pool which was also host to the temporary exhibition which ran over two weeks last August and gave a glimpse of the wealth of material in the collection relating to the culture and art of skateboarding.

skateboard museum hover board

The timeline of the skateboard starts when the Vikings first solved the problem of how to get faster from A to B by fashioning ice skates from whale bone. The Netherlands lay claim to the first roller skates, although only a sketch survives. The story continues, from strap on roller skates, which were perfected in the USA, to kids’ scooters which eventually lost their handlebars and voila – you have a skateboard.

skateboard museum vintage scooter

What began as a past time for kids got elevated in status when surfers caught on to this ‘sidewalk skateboard’, giving rise to the question whether it was a toy or sports equipment. Between 1959 and 1965, the first ‘skateboard boom’, there were apparently over 20 million skateboards sold.

skateboard museum skateboards

skateboard museum super skate spray

After an article in Life Magazine in 1965 branded skateboards as ‘The Devil’s Toy’, many US cities banned skateboards overnight. It was not until almost ten years later, when the second skateboard boom – saw everyone, men and women, young and old, skating again. The boom came to an abrupt end, when E.T. introduced the BMX bike in 1982.

skateboard museum warning sign

The Skateboard Museum’s collection shows the origin and evolution of the skateboard, from early hand made models which were little more than planks with wheels strapped on, to the newest trends and novelty shapes. You can see how the boards become more rounded and the wheels wider. How the materials change, and how stoppers and other innovations are introduced. Variations around the world are shown in examples from the USA, Russia and the former GDR, as well as the rest of Germany of course.

skateboard museum marge simpson

skateboard museum dragon art

skateboard museum rubber wheels

And it doesn’t just stop at the functionality and design. A whole culture has grown around the skateboarding community, which is reflected in the artworks adorning many of the boards in the collection, skateboarding music – such as skate pink and skate rock – and even a collection showing the evolution of skateboard shoes.

skateboard museum artwork

skateboard museum skater music

skateboard museum skater shoes

It’s a surprisingly fascinating topic about a significant part of social history. I hope the museum manages to realise its dream of re-opening in the new location. I’d definitely be one of the first lining up to visit. I will keep you posted on any developments ;)

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One Response to “{Germany} The Culture & Art of Skateboarding”

  1. Showrav Hasan Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great to know the history


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