A “museum of things”? Sounds like what we see every weekend … But it’s a real place that I was able to visit during a brief stay in Berlin. Intrigued by the brief write-up in Time Out (and knowing we’d be right in the neighborhood) I decided I had to check it out.
The museum mainly consisted of case after case of things … all kinds of things.
The first thing it made me think of was being in an antique mall … a very tidy, well-curated antique mall. (Without price tags, of course.)
The things were displayed in lined-up cases – there were probably at least fifty of them, each with a different, specific selection of items inside.
It was cool, but kept wondering how they decided what to include in the collection. I mean, it seemed to span every conceivable type and style of item. How did they possibly narrow it down, when more artifacts could presumably obtained at any moment from various thrift shops or flea markets (not to mention newer items still available in stores)? I mean, why these bars of soaps and not others? Why so many soaps, and not a corresponding number of shampoos or deodorants or combs (which were all represented, but in smaller quantities)?
My next thought was that it was sort of like if you went to an estate sale of someone with hoarding tendencies, then carefully cleaned, arranged and displayed all the items. Because it felt almost like that amount of rhyme or reason as far as what was included: a somewhat random selection from all the “things” in the world (or even Germany). I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but it was a mystery to me. For the most part, there was no information about the items on display to clue visitors in to the thinking behind the exhibits, aside from each case’s label which gave a brief description of what it contained. (This one said something like “yellow and black things”. Of course I still wondered how they chose these out of every possible yellow and black things.)
My husband said that it reminded him of going to the Hobby Hall at the Puyallup Fair, where people’s collections of various things are displayed (always running the gamut from lame to amazing), and I could kind of see that too.
Maybe I was just thinking about it all too much. Or maybe looking at that much stuff was giving me flashbacks to those huge antique malls that would take hours to really get through (but you know there’s something good somewhere, so you scour through as best you can before running out of steam). Eventually I decided to just enjoy the crazy ride … and then discovered one of the most amazing things there, and one of the very few items not enclosed in a case: this mind-blowing television, complete wiith stereo components in built-in slots. Whoa!
Here’s a great post I found about the museum that actually digs into more of its philosophy, structure, and design aspects … way better than I could manage, and worth a read (great photos, too). Though I was happy to see that the author stlil reached somewhat the same conclusion that I did:
… on a purely surface level it’s just the coolest, best-organized thrift store you have ever seen.
It was an interesting, if somewhat baffling, experience. I’m glad I went! And I do think that everyday things should be preserved and admired. That’s often the subcurrent in my brain when I find something cool or strange at a yard sale … but then I think, do I need to be the one to preserve this? Usually, the answer is no. So it’s kind of nice to see someone else taking up the cause … and sharing the bounty with anyone who happens to be in Berlin (with four euros and a little time to spare).