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Press section: 100 Objects (starting May 13)

26. March 2020

100 Objects: An Archive of Feelings

The cabinet of curiosities exploded! In spring and summer 2020, the Schwules Museum will turn the spotlight on its own collection. Following the example of the British Museum’s successful exhibit “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” we present the richness, diversity and fascination of our collection in 100 objects selected from our archival collection of 1,5 million and arranged according to feelings (joy, care, desire, anger and fear), this uncompromisingly queer collection includes photographs and drag costumes, documents and paintings, books from 1629 and contemporary artistic positions.

In recent years, the Schwules Museum has taken decisive steps towards presenting a more diverse program. This year, we begin to reflect on how these interventions have affected and will continue to affect how our collections: how we see them, understand them, and present them. How can we queer what has been traditionally a very gay collection? How do we celebrate our holdings, and the great importance they have for so many in our community, and simultaneously think them critically and open them up to ways of think ways of thinking and knowing?

“100 Objects” presents our collections in a new way: not arranged according to specific identities or historical eras, but according to affects, or feelings. What does an object make us feel? How did its creators feel? Its original audiences?

Affects are difficult to localize. Forms of experience and knowledge that transcend familiar categories for conveying histories and experiences, they set our self-image and our history in motion.

These questions open up new ways of understanding our collections – from new acquisitions in art to classic Berlin drag costumes, and everything in between. This affective look at our collection brings to light objects and connections between objects that might otherwise escape chronologically and hierarchically ordered historiographies. It highlights singularities and new horizons, and discovers coincidences that open new doors to the world of queer things.

What affects, emotions, or feelings can be used to evoke queer lifeworlds? Is there a characteristic “queer” feeling? The psychologist Sylvan Tomkins once suggested that human behavior could be understood through eight or nine basic affects. Starting from this idea, we organize this exhibition around five crossing paths: desire, joy, care, anger, and fear.


This affective approach to our hundred objects means we remain open to surprises, to stories that have not yet been written down. This presentation is necessarily incomplete. It is an experiment, and an invitation to our visitors to experience queer history in all its vividness, and to rewrite it and to dream it forward.Curation: Ben Miller & Dr. Peter RehbergProject assistant: Ralf Hupke Exhibition Management: Justus HeitzelmannIntern: Christian Savini

Press Photos:

These photos are to be used for press purposes only, with complete credits as shown here.