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Newsletter 06 2020

4. June 2020

June 2020 at the SMU

It’s been three weeks that the exhibitions reopened, and it feels so good! Even better: the library and our legendary archive are also finally open to the public. Due to limited space there, and in order to comply with current safety guidelines, we kindly ask you to register your visit at least one week in advance. Just send an e-mail to archivbibliothek@schwulesmuseum.de, and tell us when you want to come over. Please note the new opening hours: The library and  archive are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 6pm. To give you enough time to read, research and explore we’ll assign you time slots of either two or four hours.

You may have noticed that we extended the Friday and Saturday opening hours of  the exhibitions until 8pm. So far, most visitors seem to stick to the traditional times, so we might reassess that by mid-June. Please check our website for updates. We’ll also keep you up-to-date via FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Apart from that, we’re glad to see that the new online booking system is well received, and turn-out in the first few weeks has been very encouraging, even if  the lack of tourists is noticeable. All that’s missing now is the reopening of our cafe, and it looks as if that will be possible soon, too. It better be, because we can’t wait to have a drink with you again!

We look forward to seeing you. Rest assured, there’s always a smile behind each face mask.

Interview with Peter Rehberg 

Archivleiter und Kurator Peter Rehberg
100 objects, 9 questions & 1 Peter Rehberg (Image: L* Reiter)

Our new exhibition 100 Objects: An Archive of Feelings showcases 100 treasures from our archive, arranged according to the feelings happiness, care, desire, anger and fear. There’s plenty to talk about, so we asked the show’s curator Peter Rehberg all the burning questions.

SMU: What’s there to see at the exhibition?
Peter: You can see 100 items from our collection. So, you’ll find a West Berlin Tuntenball costume from the 1980s, there’s a lesbian knit sweater, a Harvey Milk stamp pin, and many other highlights. There are many three dimensional objects, and also some great rarities from our Art and Photography Collection, for instance, the piece ”Bartfrau” (Bearded Woman) by Tabea Blumenschein, who sadly passed away in February. The exhibition also presents artworks by Rüdiger Trautsch, Wilfried Laule, Petra Gall and Jürgen Baldiga.

How did you choose 100 objects from of a collection of 1.5 million pieces?
Our approach was very intuitive. Me and my co-curator Ben Miller invited a few people, volunteers, colleagues and participants from the project. We asked everyone what they’d like to see in the exhibition, and they chose objects closest to their hearts. It was quite an emotional selection process.

Is that the reason for the title ”100 Objects: An Archive of Feelings”?
Exactly, though someone had already come up with the title before. ”An Archive of Feelings” is the title of a book by Ann Cvetkovich, in which she explores queer qualities of feelings. That idea raised many questions: Does the object imply a feeling? Or is it the viewer’s perception that creates it? If you look at Jürgen Baldiga’s self-portrait, for instance, you’ll notice the sadness and despair in the eyes of a man who is dealing with his Aids diagnosis; but at the same time he is wearing a clown’s nose, offering a playful, grimly funny contrast. This piece is one of the first things you get to see in the show, and I think it has such an emotional impact that you will have to deal with your own feelings before you can piece together what it may mean.

Have you got any feedback from guests yet?
Many are happy to see the archive represented so lovingly and extensively. Most are surprised by the sheer amount of different and fascinating objects Schwules Museum owns. Most of the time, our exhibitions hardly feature any of the pieces from our archives. Obviously, it does not have to be like this. You can address so many current topics and questions, just by looking at the Museum’s own collection. Let me tell you, there’s a lot to discover!

Please find the full interview (in German) with photos here.

Digital Options

50 years of movement history in 10 clips with Carina Klugbauer (Image: Paul Sleev)

Since we are still not able to host public events or tours at the moment, we decided to offer you a few virtual paths through our exhibitions. At the end of May the last episode of our tour  Love at First Fight! went online. Curator Carina Klugauer guides you through more than 50 years of queer history in Germany in 10 episodes. You can also discover (post-)migrant Berlin night life of the 1990s in our digital tour of our new exhibition Queens. A third online-tour will follow in June, presenting an informed look at the exhibition The Souls Around UsAll videos are (or will be) available on Facebook and YouTube. By the way: we extended the duration of the Amos Badertscher exhibition until July 27.

Also, if you want to find out which item from our vast collection suits you best, take a look at our Instagram. Here you find our new challenges, letting you share your Snap Moment and your favourite object from our collection with us.

Volunteers to the front!

Always on the sunny side: Gernot Lindner on his balcony in Charlottenburg (Image: private)

Schwules Museum wouldn’t be what it is without volunteers like Gernot Lindner. Wether at reception, behind the counter at the café, or supervising the exhibitions: the 59-year-old always keeps his cool and has an answer for any question one might have. Gernot grew up near Bamberg and studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, eventually becoming an art teacher – and a passionate one at that. After teaching in Antwerp and Bayreuth he started at a school in Berlin-Spandau in 2016. Almost simultaneously, he joined our team of volunteers. You can read the full interview with Gernot on our website (in German) where he reveals what he appreciates about his work at the SMU, why he admires Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and how he once ambushed a famous writer in Salzburg.

Object of the Month: Shorts once owned by Charlotte von Mahlsdorf

Shorts once owned by Charlotte von Mahlsdorf spark joy (Image: L* Reiter)

Usually the object of the month is displayed at the Museum café. Until we are able to re-open it, we present a special piece from our new exhibition 100 Objects this way. This time, the favourite piece of Gernot, our volunteer of the month: legendary Charlotte von Mahlsdorf’s denim shorts, along with a letter. 

The letter reads: “There is one thing I want to tell you: I took my collection of shorts out of the closet – corduroy trousers, rivet trousers, jeans, swimming trunks, leather trousers – and spread them out on the bed while he wrote numbers from 1 to 6 on pieces of paper that he assigned to different pants. The next collection of notes was intended for various instruments – thin cane, thick cane, rod, whip, seven-breasted horse…”

Charlotte played the game with her boyfriend Jochen, whom she got to know through a scribble on the wall of a public toilet: “Friend, 47, seeks friend for mutual blows with a cane, rod or whip. Please write.” She stayed with him for almost thirty years.


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