November 16, 2012 - extended until June 23, 2013
Mein München. Interventions at the Münchner Stadtmuseum

We’re shaking things up! MEIN MÜNCHEN (My Munich) is a temporary exhibition comprising confrontational interventions challenging ‘Typically Munich!’, our permanent exhibition. The Münchner Stadtmuseum has invited students from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to examine both their own perceptions of Munich and the ways in which the city is portrayed by its museums. The result is a panorama of the issues affecting Munich in the late modern period. Thirteen interventions, spread throughout the permanent exhibition, offer a subjective critique that challenges the city’s official history. They provide a new slant on received wisdom about Munich, precisely within a setting predominantly associated with more rigid forms of expression. The different interventions transgress the traditional boundaries of what we expect from a museum, bringing fresh civil society perspectives to a place usually concerned with conserving and preserving the past. They show us that Munich, beyond the clichés and traditions that surround the city, is a venue for all the typical activities of an urban lifestyle. Their subjective interpretations reveal little-known sides of Munich, opening a window onto the diversity that exists within the city.

A fresh take on the city’s history:
One intervention plays the everyday sounds and noises of the city, pinpointing their locations on a model. A listening bar allows visitors to hear music composed, produced or performed in Munich, providing an interactive way of experiencing the soundtrack of the city. The works of various Munich graffiti artists, including Loomit, Z-ROK & Flin, are brought to the museum from the city’s railway tracks, streets and bridges. The vibrancy of Munich’s clubbing scene over the past decade is exemplified by the REGISTRATUR, which raised the bar for nightclubs at its temporary venue in Munich’s Blumenstraße. Now its turntables and mirror balls can be found still spinning away among the museum’s display cases. As you would expect, a cosmopolitan city like Munich is home to people of many different religions. The religious biographies of two women, a Muslim and a Buddhist, reflect this diversity.

 

The ‘live and let live’ attitude that many associate with Munich is documented by two interventions that tell us what it is like to be a lesbian in the city and recount the story of the Münchner Löwen Club, Munich’s first gay leather and fetish club. While these groups do occasionally still meet with disapproval, they appear, on the whole, to have become an accepted part of life in the city. An intervention, which focuses on the companies once part of the former KrausMaffei business, combines a historical perspective with a more critical appraisal. It documents the historical and contemporary importance of industry in Munich, rarely perceived of as an industrial city in any way, with the result that industry occupies a relatively modest place in the city’s cultural fabric. This intervention also examines the uncomfortable contribution made by arms manufacturing to the city’s prosperity.

The river Isar flows through Munich like a life-giving artery. Today, it is mainly important as a recreational area within the city. However, an intervention focusing on the Isar’s value as a leisure resource also makes the point of reminding us of the consequences of using the river in this way. The interplay between globalisation and localisation that has long been a topic of debate in the field of cultural anthropology provides the theme for the intervention on Munich’s skateboarders, who impart a splash of local fashion sensibility to this symbol of global youth culture by decking themselves out in traditional lederhosen and felt hats. They even decorate their decks with symbolic images of the city such as the Smith of Kochel (a figure from Bavarian myth) or the Münchner Kindl (the figure on the city’s coat of arms). Meanwhile, banners used by people demonstrating against the annual Munich Security Conference bear witness to the creative forms of protest employed by the city’s committed pacifists. Their slogans resonate throughout the rooms of the exhibition. The city’s illegal settlements are a phenomenon which at first sight seems scarcely credible. They are something that most people would associate with Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul or other megacities, and yet they are also to be found in Munich, where the status of homes built illegally in the aftermath of the Second World War has often not been fully resolved even today.

The accounts of men and women living in Munich provide a subjective chronicle of the city’s recent history, taking up its story at more or less the point where the permanent exhibition ‘Typically Munich!’ leaves off. They aim to inspire visitors to reflect upon their own personal chronicles. Transport is one of the major issues facing today’s world, especially in big cities. MEIN MÜNCHEN presents a commuter’s view of the city on the daily journey to work. Finally, even in a city with apparent signs of wealth and prosperity everywhere you look you find many people living on or below the poverty line. BISS was Germany’s first street newspaper and offers one approach to tackling this problem. The paper has been the focus for a whole raft of actions geared towards promoting social inclusion of socially disadvantaged people in the city.

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Münchner Stadtmuseum and the Faculty of Cultural Studies/Institute of European Ethnology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The project provides up-and-coming scholars and students with a platform to express heir ideas about a contemporary city museum and invites the people of the city to participate in how it is portrayed.

The MEIN MÜNCHEN exhibition has, as its media partner, Bayern 2. The exhibition is sponsored by the Edith Haberland-Wagner Foundation.

 

Logo Bayern 2

Publication

A 128-page catalogue with approximately 100 plates, many in full colour, will be published by Herbert Utz Verlag München to accompany the exhibition, priced at €15. The catalogue is available only in German at our Online-Shop