The V&A Has a Rival — The German Historical Museum

I hadn’t planned to spend an entire day at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum), but the permanent collection and the special exhibits were so interesting that I couldn’t leave. My long-time favourite museum is the Victoria and Albert, in London, but the Deutsches Historisches Museum gives it a run for the money.

The museum consists of two buildings, connected by a pleasant enclosed courtyard.  The older building, which houses the permanent exhibition, is the Zeughaus, the old arsenal, which dates back to the 17th Century.   In 1943, it was the site of a failed but undetected attempt by a suicide bomber to assassinate Hitler.

The permanent exhibition traces the history of the German people from the 5th Century to the end of the 20th Century.  It’s a beautifully staged exhibition, grouping paintings, clothing, tools, armour, musical instruments, religious items, and furniture chronologically.

The upper floor explores history through the end of the WWI, and the first floor covers the period from the Weimar Republic through the Nazi regime, the post-war division of Germany, and the 1990 reunification.

The Deutsches Historisches Museum is everything a history museum should be.  It tells its story in a comprehensive, linear, and coherent way.

I found a five-minute walk-through of the museum on YouTube.  It doesn’t even begin to capture the richness of the collection, and the videomaker has, for no apparent reason, added some weird sound effects, but it gives a small taste of  the exhibition.

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