Berlin's new Exile Museum set for 2025 opening

Every architect dreams of designing museums – you want to be part of something that has importance
– Dorte Mandrup

A new museum telling the stories of the people exiled from Germany by the Nazi regime is set to open in Berlin in 2025.

The Exile Museum will incorporate the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof railway station, which was used by people fleeing the country during World War II before it was bombed in 1943.

The museum will include biographies of famous exiled Germans – including Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann – as well as ordinary people forced to flee their homes during the war.

Designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, the idea for the museum was first proposed in 2009, when Nobel laureate Herta Müller wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposing a museum of exile.

A civic initiative, the Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin, was established in 2018 by Herta Müller, former German President Joachim Gauck, and the art dealer and co-founder of Villa Grisebach, Bernd Schultz, to develop the museum.

Largely financed by private donations – including €6.3m raised by Bernd Schultz in an auction of artworks from his private collection – the museum is estimated to cost around €27m.

The museum’s focus will be on stories and biographies told via multimedia exhibits rather than on the display of material objects, with exhibitions working in “a very media-intensive way with scenographically conceived spaces,” according to the architect.

The ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof train station – which was also used by the Nazis to deport Jews to the Theresienstadt concentration camp – are being left intact and incorporated into Mandrup’s new three-storey building.

Speaking exclusively to Attractions Management, Dorte Mandrup said: "“This museum is so important; we have millions of people forced to flee their countries right now.

"It’s vital to have empathy for people forced to leave everything they know.

“Every architect dreams of designing museums – you want to be part of something that has importance.

"It matters to us that the buildings we’re designing and the exhibits happening inside them are meaningful."

• To read the full interview with Dorte Mandrup, click here for Attractions Management Issue 1/2021.

Exile Museum  Dorte Mandrup  Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin 
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