We Had Other Things on Our Minds
For 40 years, Berlin was home to “twin museums” on either side of the Wall: East and West Berlin each had their own Egyptian Museum, their own Collection of Antiquities, their own National Gallery, and so on. This peculiar situation came to an end in 1992 with the merging of the Staatliche Museen in a reunited Berlin. In the years that followed, none of these institutions were left untouched by the effects of the merger. Many of them underwent multiple rounds of restructuring, were scaled back, expanded, or moved into new buildings and other parts of the city.
While the museums and their staff were going through these historic transformations 30 years ago, everyday Germans had other things on their minds during the era of reunification. This exhibition thus focusses on the perspective of museum-goers at the time. How has a visit to the museum changed, and what are the ongoing effects of these events some three decades later, with the massive changes they ushered in for the cultural life of the city?
Visitors of the Rembrandt exhibition in the Altes Museum featuring paintings from the Gemäldegalerie (East) and Gemäldegalerie (West), 1991.
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Back to the 90s...
First mass demonstration in Leipzig "we are the people".
Announcement of freedom of travel for GDR citizens and opening of the Wall.
The General Directors of the State Museums SMB (East) and the State Museums of Prussian Cultural Heritage SMPK (West) give a joint interview to the radio station "Stimme der DDR" (Voice of East Germany) on the cooperation and fusion of the museum complexes under the umbrella of the existing Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) or a "National Foundation" to be aimed at.
The Berlin Film Festival for the first time is held in both parts of the city.
Last elections to the GDR Volkskammer.
Monetary Union between the two German states.
The Federal Republic of Germany wins against Argentina in the Football World Cup final in Italy.
tHerbert Schirmer, Minister of Culture of the GDR, suspends the SMB statute of 1980 and declares a new statute drawn up by the staff to be effective.
aOpening of the exhibition "Carl Blechen-between Romanticism and Realism" in the Neue Nationalgalerie as the first exhibition jointly prepared by the two museum complexes.
kThe Unification Treaty comes into force.
The State Museums (East) are provisionally incorporated into the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The Foundation also takes over the 1,280 employees.
All-German parliamentary elections and elections to the first all-Berlin House of Representatives.
The board of trustees of the SPK adopts the "Memorandum on the Reunification" drawn up by the directors in East and West. It envisages a reorganisation of the reunited SMB at the three main locations Kulturforum, Museumsinsel and Dahlem.
The Warsaw Pact dissolves.
The Tresor Club opens in Leipziger Strasse as Berlin's first Techno Club.
The last Trabant ("Trabbi") car rolls off the production line in Zwickau.
The first two "twin museums" under the umbrella of the Prussian Heritage Foundation are given joint management: Prof. Dr. Wilfried Menghin, Director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Charlottenburg, also takes over the management of the East Berlin Museum of Prehistory and Early History on a commissionary basis.
Start of the Yugoslavian Civil War.
Public lecture and discussion on the reorganisation of Berlin's museum landscape at the URANIA East Berlin. Start of the "museum dispute" about the future of the Museumsinsel and Kulturforum.
The first all-German Duden is presented in Leipzig.
The Board of Trustees of the SPK decides on full organisational unification by merging the divided museums. The General Director of the SMB (East) and the directors of the 11 East Berlin twin collections are removed from office.
The 14 State Museums of Berlin (East) and the 14 State Museums of Prussian Cultural Heritage (West) are merged to form a total of 17 State Museums of Berlin – Prussian Heritage Foundation by combining the 11 twin collections.
The first central German memorial to the Holocaust is opened in the Villa am Wannsee Berlin.
First joint staff meeting of the State Museums of Berlin – Prussian Heritage Foundation in the Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie.
Euro-Disneyland opens near Paris.
New entrance fees are introduced in the western part of the city and prices are increased in the eastern part.
UN Earth Summit begins in Rio de Janeiro.
Opening of the 25th Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona.
Physical acts of racial violence against migrants take place in Rostock-Lichtenhagen.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit the Pergamon Museum.
The leaders of the twelve EC states decide to found the European Union (Maastricht Treaty).