“It’s not really a museum one would think of as existing in the first place”
Lena is a native Berliner and is currently studying to become a primary school teacher with sign language at the Humboldt University Berlin. Ever since she moved out at age 19, she likes to get crafty and built the furniture for her room and optimize the shared spaces in the apartment she lives in at Baumschulenweg. For this interview, she told us on which exciting project she is working on now, and what perspective one has as a SMU-fledgling.
SMU: Hey Lena, do you want to start with talking about your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy listening to music and reading, and for the longest time I was part of a huge theatre event in the FEZ at Wuhlheide. Yeah, and now a friend and I and me are starting – well, we are hoping (laughs) to start a queer Youtube Channel very soon. We will name it Queertalk and won’t be in front of the camera ourselves, but rather invite people to talk about toppings they want to talk about and that are relevant for queer people. We will pop up at the end and say “Thank you for watching” (laughs)
Super cool! Will it be a sort of an education-political project?
Nah, I would think of it rather as platform for people to exchange. For example me, I am part of the Schwule Museum for one year now and realized that there are very few young people there. And there are lots of older people, who already have had amazing experiences – who thereby also know a lot, that a younger audience wouldn’t know. Alone the things that happened in the last thirty years in terms of the topic queer… I just think that would be a great possibility for people to get in touch.
Do you have a topic in mind, that y’all would discuss, just as an example?
For sure, the first episode will be about representation in media, especially social media, with a particular look on Trans*. But other than that, we want to make sure to talk about loads of different topics, just everything people are willing to talk about. I for sure also want to approach the people at the Schwule Museum and ask if they wanna participate.
Would you identify yourself as queer?
There surely is some relevance of this topic to my own life and I would also say that I am queer. To me it simply seems fitting, queer is such an open term and feel like I will be able to grasp many of the life experiences in my future within this term. There’s loads of potential for development.
Thank you for the insight! What exactly is it that you are doing at the museum?
A lot (laughs). Before Corona started, I was mainly part of the evening events as a bartender – but since those have been cancelled, I am only here during the day in the exhibitions. It’s been a year of me coming here and I help out once or twice a month, depending on how much I have.
Do you have a favorite task here at SMU?
I really like the evening events, since there are a lot of different people who are in the mood to talk a lot – not saying that I necessarily converse with them, but it’s fun to watch the whole thing. And then, when the event really starts and there’s not so much to do at the bar, it feels to me like I am just a regular visitor of the event, that is always very exciting and I learn a lot. I love it, that this museum exists. It’s not really a museum one would think of as existing in the first place – and then you enter the halls and there are various exhibitions to queer topics. To me, that’s just very, very beautiful.
Do you remember the first time visiting the Schwule Museum?
The first time… I think I just heard about it at some point and came here, on my own even, because I didn’t now a lot of queer people (laughs). And the second time, I came with because of the Lange Nacht der Museen with my parents and that was really nice, too. And when I came the third time, I saw the sign that said that the museum is looking for volunteers and wrote an e-mail right away. Afterwards, when I started, I was a little surprised about how homogenous the volunteers were in terms of age range. But honestly, it makes sense, since the people that have the time regularly to help out are for example people that don’t work full time or are retired, and I think that’s great. I just would’ve thought that more young people would volunteer and do that on a regular basis. Once or twice I saw a younger person, but they basically disappeared right away. I find that to be a little bit of a bummer.
Do you have an idea, why the younger audience isn’t staying here?
I am absolutely sure, that the content here at the Schwule Museum is of interest to them. But when you are so young, you can be kind of pre-occupied with yourself. Especially as a teenager, it is a priority to learn to love yourself and the first thing you do isn’t necessarily to go into a queer museum, but maybe five years later when you are more submerged into the topic and see more connecting factors. However, for myself I always find cool events that connect me to the museum, such as the Queer Kitchen here, or the exhibition about sex work last year, with that one performance in the room where the “100 Objects” exhibition is now. The person spoke her own voice into a little machine and then scribbled on her own body, that was very impressing.
As closing words, do you want to express a wish to the SMU, something that you are missing?
The… young people (laughs). I think the responsibility for this lies on both sides. The museum as well as the people within my age group are to blame for the lack of young people within the volunteers. Maybe the SMU could target these people more and reach out to youth groups, for example, or associations for young, queer people, there are a lot of nice people. Despite the fact that the Schwule Museum is full of life, it could gain even more of that via this intergenerational aspect.
Image: Lena Granwoski (Yasmin Künze)