Migration Moves the City

Munich is a city of migration – migration influences every aspect of a city and its urban development. Migration, when an individual permanently moves residence from one country to another, in all its guises and with all the challenges it presents and issues it raises, is a fact of life and is deeply embedded in a society’s past, present and future.The Münchner Stadtmuseum, in partnership with the Munich City Archives (Stadtarchiv München), has designed the “Migration Moves the City” project with a view to combating discriminatory racial stereotypes and attitudes by ensuring that the role of migration in the city’s development is rendered visible on an ongoing basis.

The project started in February 2015 and is due to run until December 2018. Each institution has explored different facets of how migration has influenced the development of Munich and left a lasting impact on the city. The project focuses principally on the period between the end of the Second World War and the present day. Key areas for research include immigration issues connected with labor recruitment agreements between Germany and other countries such as Turkey, refugees and asylum, displaced persons and the memories of the victims of the NSU murders in Munich. It involves studying those actors, places, policies and images which best shine a light on everyday life in a city of migration such as Munich as well as on different aspects of racism and discrimination.

The project’s academic consultants are Prof. Sabine Hess (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) and Prof. Johannes Moser (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München). The project has benefited from the support of an advisory committee composed of a number of actors linked personally, professionally or in some other capacity to migration in Munich. The consultants and the advisory committee jointly contribute to the decision-making process and provide the project with appropriate input.

Goggles, canned food, coins and banknotes of different currencies – finds at Munich Central Station in November 2015. Provenance: Flüchtlingshilfe München e.V. © Münchner Stadtmuseum
Pontic Lyra (three-stringed instrument) by Theodoros Boulgarides (1964-2005) © Münchner Stadtmuseum
Module in the permanent exhibition "Typically Munich!" since December 2016: "Social consequences of the NSU in Munich" © Münchner Stadtmuseum

Existing collections held by the Münchner Stadtmuseum and the Munich City Archives, which include items and sources relevant to the history of migration in the city, are currently being examined. However, these comprise mere fragments of the city’s history primarily filed away for other purposes. They further present a very one-sided perspective on migration, namely that of the public authorities. They will be supplemented by a new collection of items and sources contributed by migrant associations, organizations and private individuals with a view to providing a more rounded historical picture and adding new voices and viewpoints to the current picture. Some preliminary findings of this research will be shared with the public through new exhibition themes, media and programs. We have explored the use of collaborative methods in developing original formats capable of presenting new issues, content, voices and links to the present day and portraying Munich from the migrant’s perspective.

From 23 June 2017 until the conclusion of the project at the end of 2018, visitors to the museum’s 2nd floor will find the latest findings of this research into migration in Munich, together with frequently changing displays of new objects and content.

The Münchner Stadtmuseum and the Munich City Archives see this project as a means of developing a new perspective which positions migration as a key driver in Munich’s development as a city.