{Germany} Around the World in 80 Things

January 14, 2015

Germany

Last weekend, we went on a family visit to Berlin’s Museum für Kommunikation. Mainly, because #MuseumBoy wanted to show Granny Scotland the robots (yes, that’s right, he is no longer scared of them!), but I was also really excited to see the special exhibition “Around the World in 80 Things: the Jules Verne Code” before it closes next month.

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Admittedly, it took some persuasion to drag #MuseumBoy away from the robots, but since he is currently very much in to adventure stories and travelling, we managed to engage him in some of the exhibits – particularly a globe, a compass built in to a walking stick, a pocket watch (“just like daddy’s!”) and a model ship caught his attention.

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“Around the World in 80 Things” looks at the history and narratives of globalisation, following along the route of Verne’s famous novel. The objects on display both relate to Verne’s story, as well as highlighting how the world was mapped out and interconnected – e.g. there is a piece of submarine cable on display that once connected Europe and North America!

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This 19th century globe (see above) belonged to none other than Jules Verne himself – he kept it on his desk to help him in planning out his stories, and on the globe are written some notations related to his novel “The Purchase of the North Pole”.

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It’s always really interesting to me, to see what catches #MuseumBoy’s attention in an exhibition, especially in one not explicitly aimed at children. He was very fascinated by two figurines/ sculptures, which he studied with his granny. In his words, the man on the left “is trying to steal the world”, and in the one on the right, “they are holding hands and making a circle to keep the world safe”. Indeed, the porcelain figure on the left from 1942 symbolises world domination, whilst the sculpture on on the right, from 1909, shows personifications of the five continents handing each other letters to symbolise a peaceful and just worldwide exchange.

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Here, #MuseumBoy and his dad are studying a travel game together, with its beautiful illustrations.

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I loved the simple yet effective design of the exhibition, with it’s travel crate display cases, and quotes and silhouettes depicting scenes from the novel. And many of the objects on display really appealed to my romantic notion of travel in ‘the olden days’, such as the travel tea set above, or the carpet bag reminiscent of Mary Poppins below, with it’s impressive needlework.

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As I mentioned, #MuseumBoy was particularly taken with a model ship. As he explained to me, if the big ship had a hole then the people would go on the little boats. And if those had holes too, then everything and everyone would sink!

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Towards the beginning of the exhibition, visitors could also pick up a card on which they could then collect a passport stamp along each of the stations in Verne’s storyline, which I thought was a fun little extra, especially for children.

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Whether you are a fan of Jules Verne, have always fancied travelling the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, or are simply interested in the history of globalisation, if you find yourself in Berlin you should definitely check out this fascinating little exhibition. “Around the World in 80 Things: The Jules Verne Code” is showing at the Museum für Kommunikation until 22nd February 2015, and admission is included in the general admission of the museum. Opening times and admission prices can be found on the museum website.

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