Merkel Praises German Historical Museum on its 25th Birthday
Enlarge image “I believe that the German Historical Museum very much does us Germans credit”, said Merkel said at the 25th anniversary celebrations. (© picture alliance / dpa) Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the German Historical Museum (DHM) on its 25th anniversary for playing a valuable role in political and cultural discourse. “I believe that the German Historical Museum very much does us Germans credit,” said Merkel on Tuesday at the anniversary celebrations. The DHM opened in 1987 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary celebrations of the city of Berlin. It was an initiative of the German chancellor at that time, Helmut Kohl.
Merkel told around 400 guests that the DHM has become an internationally respected forum and place of exchange. Its many exemplary exhibitions have won the public over, she said, adding that the museum contributes significantly to Germany’s image abroad.
The DHM presents 2,000 years of German history. A new hall designed by the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei in 2003 now houses special exhibitions. Since its opening, the DHM has received around 12 million visitors – one in three of these come from overseas. In 2012 alone, 800,000 visitors are expected, making the DHM one of the most visited museums in Germany.
Minister of State Bernd Neumann, federal government commissioner for culture and the media, described the DHM as “the historical business card of our country.” It could be considered a role model for museums on the international stage, he asserted.
The success of the DHM was not assured in its early days. Fierce debates took place about the museum’s meaning, objectives and likelihood of success leading up to the its founding. The site of the museum was at first meant to be in the Spreebogen area next to the current Berlin main train station and the Reichstag.
The fall of the Berlin Wall transformed plans for the museum. On October 3, 1990, the day of German reunification, the government handed over the collections as well as the site of the then “Museum for German History,” an East German museum, to the new DHM. The museum’s first exhibition took place in September 1991.
On October 27 and 28, the museum is hosting a festival that is expected to attract large numbers. Guests can visit the museum exhibitions for free and enjoy a program of films, lectures and museum tours, as well as get glimpses of museum work behind the scenes.