Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden

My name is Klaus Vogel. I’m the director of the Deutsche Hygiene Museum. The story begins in 1911, as the first international hygiene exhibition took place in Dresden. This was a huge event with more than 5 million visitors coming at that time to Dresden. It was basically a world exhibition and after this world exhibition, the residents of Dresden asked, “What will we do with all the exhibits?” And so the idea came up to make this temporary exhibition a permanent museum. And that was the birth of the Deutsche Hygiene Museum. During the period of the Weimar Republic things slowly came to fruition with the plans for the realization of the museum as a museum building and finally, after a competition, this large museum building was built by Wilhelm Kreis, which we can see here in the background. This was one of the largest museum buildings that were built during the Weimar period, a consistently modern building that has basically retained its character even today. After the Second World War, the museum didn’t really experience a “zero hour,” because attempts were made, under the Soviet occupation, to forge links to the progressive work of the 1920s, such as health education, but also to work against sexually transmitted diseases in the postwar period. Thus the Deutsche Hygiene Museum, as it actually was officially called, developed in the GDR as a major public health educational institution, more of an institution or an educational institution than a museum. But in 1990 a new challenge emerged: What direction should the museum take? The freedom to do anything at all? No, our goal has always been to work on linking the exhibitions, as well as the collection, to the image of the common man. The main focus is on people, but not only as a biological beings and beings in relation to medicine, but also as social beings, as beings formed by culture, the ups and downs of civilization, the human being as the focus of various disciplines. That’s is not just the content of our special exhibitions, but also that of the permanent exhibitions such as our Children’s Museum. The topics of our exhibitions often have something to do with the living present and with the problems of our time. Migration, for example, was a topic — demographics, climate change on Earth, or even AIDS as the topic of a current exhibition. Some of these topics are perhaps less pressing in Europe than in other parts of the world, but they still represent current issues. We consistently choose topics that take wider positions, perhaps not problems exactly, but topics that take the basic internal condition of the human being into consideration, the human condition, in difficult as well as easier times, such as exhibitions on friendship or happiness. Each exhibition has its own individual characteristics. Many manuscripts can be found here at the museum. There is no in-house curator doing everything according to a set of rules. There is a very wide range of topics, a message for young people, for the elderly, for school classes, for the disabled, and for non-disabled. It should in any case be, and I believe it is: An establishment that is open to everything.

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