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Press section: The Schwules Museum as an endangered space

19. July 2023

The Schwules Museum, a globally unique institution for queer history and culture, has been attacked five times by unknown persons since February this year. These attacks challenge us: they burden, destabilize, and unsettle. They also bring us to our limits in terms of staff and financial resources. We therefore wish, for us and for all those who experience group-related violence, support and solidarity, in which our safety, our well-being and our resources are equally taken into account.

What happened: On the night of 24.02.2023, there was an air rifle attack on the Schwules Museum. The front windows, the sign bearing our name, and an artwork hanging in front of the door were shot at. The news of the incident was picked up by many media outlets, and there was widespread coverage, expressions of solidarity from other institutions and individuals. The Schwules Museum filed charges against unknown persons.

Unfortunately, the attacks continued. On 13.03.2023 the entrance of the museum was smeared with food and our staff insulted. On 31.03.2023 — also during our opening hours — the front of the museum was sprayed with a fire extinguisher. On 21.05.2023 and on 28.05.2023 water bombs were thrown into the foyer of the museum. Charges were filed in these cases as well.

In addition, there is a background noise of violence that, sad as it is, is commonplace for us. Anti-queer stickers in front of the house, radical right-wing stickers in our toilets, blows against the windowpane, insults, abuse and threats on the phone, in social media and in our guestbook.

Group-related, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, anti-sex worker and anti-queer violence are no exceptions. They affect individuals, activists and groups who fight for their rights, and increasingly also associations and institutions that take a visible stand. We know from our networked institutions, associations, and groups that we are not alone with these experiences.

When people and institutions experience violence, support is needed. We welcome the declarations of intent expressed by the Berlin Senate and the federal government to record anti-queer violence more precisely, to name it more clearly and to raise awareness in society. However, we would also like to see support that goes beyond police and educational work. We need financial, personnel and psychological help. The work must not be burdened on those who are attacked. We want solidarity-based support at all levels and in all cases of group-related hatred.

In our case and many others, violence ties up financial, human, and emotional resources. The insurance company questions whether the window needs to be replaced because — despite bullet holes — it is still intact. The costs for the lettering, the artwork or the cleanings are borne by us. The elaboration of the security concept, the search for trainers for our employees and the research for prevention support from the judicial administration or the employers’ liability insurance association must be done on top of our daily work. We, the employees, the volunteers (who carry the house to a large extent), and our audience are under attack. We do not feel safe and are largely left alone with the consequences of the violence. With the attacks on our house, our existence as a self-confidently visible queer place is questioned.

The Schwules Museum was founded in 1985 and is considered one of the largest LGBTQIA-museums in the world. The collection alone comprises about 1.5 million archival items, and up to three exhibitions are usually shown simultaneously on an exhibition space of just under 700 m². It is funded by the state of Berlin and offers thousands of visitors an insight into queer history, art and activism every year. Currently running are the exhibitions “Love at First Fight – Queer Movements in Germany since Stonewall”, “Photography as a Way of Life – Rüdiger Trautsch, 50 years of pictures”, “_Gap: Having Time. Counting Time. Filling Time.” and “lieben.kämpfen.tanzen. – 50 years Sonntags-Club”.

We are happy to provide you with further information about the Schwules Museum and to put you in touch with people from the board of directors and the management.


Press photos:

Images may be used for reporting purposes only, with full credit given to the source (unless otherwise stated Schwules Museum).