Sunday, June 3, 2012

Museum of Things, Berlin

John and I found the Museum der Dinge at Oranienstraße 25, behind our fave Eastern Kreuzberg bookstore, Kitsch & Co. The entrance to the museum is set inside the archway to the courtyard behind the bookstore. A bit hidden.
We boldly set off up the stairs but we can now advise visitors to take the elevator next to the street doorway if they wish to skip a long climb. The museum is on the 5th floor!
Once you arrive you'll find an airy, light-filled reception/shop area with a welcoming staff and a great view of Oranienstraße below.
Then we began our visit to the museum's collection of everyday things with a stop at Lulu, a fading, wax mannequin who is featured on Lou Reed's recent cd of the same name.
The collection is based on the Werkbundarchiv -- which collected objects of the culture of the 20th and 21st centuries during "which most goods were industrially mass-produced commodities." 
The resulting display is fascinating.
Soon we realized that all the objects, both the beautiful and the kitsch, in our everyday lives had to be designed by someone.
I loved this tiny jigsaw puzzle of a Prussian soldier or is he perhaps a Prince?
The Werkbund was an association of artists, industrialists and political figures, formed in 1907, to promote modern, functional design like this wooden, Belgian railway seat created by Art Nouveau designer, Henry van der Velde.
I loved the continuing displays of chair designs from the mass-produced wooden suites of 1906
to the examples from 1945-1960's that were foldable, stackable and take-apartable. Of course, eventually plastic became the major material used.
Streamlined designs appear in the 30's.
The extent of the museum's collection is far-reaching and fascinating.
These toys look so much like the logos on the earliest Penguin Books.
We loved these wonderful Pelikan product designs.
The Leibnitz biscuit packaging is still available in the museum shop.
Here we see a theme of electricity - even a model power pole.
The monster tv set in the background was designed as a "joke" but outsold the prize-winning designs in front of it. Such is public taste.
This modernistic dollhouse furniture reminded John of using almost any kind of found material to furnish little homes as play spaces for dolls when he was a kid. 
These furnishings would have been a godsend back then.
We realized that even all those "naughty", tasteless items to be found in joke and souvenir shops had to be designed for mass production by someone.
Personally, I like the thumb-tapemeasure.
 Sometimes we had to guess how the display groups were connected. But they are always fascinating and poetic.
It was with great pleasure that we expressed our enthusiasm for the collection at the end. We promised to blog about and spread the word about the museum.
As with the best art museums it made us see the world afresh. John used the toilet before we left and was caught by these fixtures.
Everything has been designed by somebody, including the stairs and the streets below.


  1. I love dinge!! Utterly Fascinating ;-)

  2. Yep, it was Shelley. The good, the bad and the ugly.

  3. What an amazing collection. It looks vast and eclectic.
    I love the building too... what a great stairwell.

  4. We can only agree, Rebecca. The collection was one of our favourite surprises in Berlin and whenever we entered old buildings that remain in the city, one realizes how much was destroyed for all time in the 2nd World war bombing.