A society’s material culture involves the objects with which it surrounds itself, including equipment for everyday activities, as well as memorabilia. The Documentation Centre regards itself as an archive of all objects that characterised life in the GDR and today provide evidence of diverse realities, ideas and actions. Together with the Beeskow Art Archive, with its collection of GDR art, the sister institutions of the District of Oder-Spree provide diverse perspectives on recent history.
Over 170,000 objects are stored in various external depots in Eisenhüttenstadt. The collection has been systematically growing since 1993, combined with research and documentation on everyday objects from the years between 1945 and 1990. The collection is based on gifts from over 2,000 people, as well as companies and public facilities.
Simson, FDJ-Hemd, Kantinengeschirr and Clubsessel are examples of a specific, now historical will to shape and design. Their traces of use make them carriers of stories about the work and politics of the GDR, as well as its leisure activities and private lives. Thus the Documentation Centre enables a broad appraisal of GDR history and attempts to contribute to a deeper understanding of German post-war history. The museum therefore regards its work in the context of different institutions, memorials and museums, as well as universities and research institutes.Close
The museum has systematically collected, researched and documented objects of material everyday culture since 1993. The results of the work are presented to the public in the form of exhibitions and publications.
In 1992, the idea was conceived of establishing a museum of everyday GDR culture in the planned city of Eisenhüttenstadt, which was founded in 1950/51. Following a decision by the city council, work to establish the facility began in 1993, initially as a department of the Eisenhüttenstadt City Museum. The same year, the historian Andreas Ludwig was appointed Director of Eisenhüttenstadt’s city museums and commissioned to establish a collection of GDR everyday culture. Acquiring stock for this collection was a participatory process, based on decisions by private and institutional donors, largely without defined curatorial acceptance criteria.
In 1994, the Documentation Centre found a location in a historical crèche in Housing Complex II. In November 1995, it presented its first special exhibition there “Tempolinsen und P 2”, which continued as a touring exhibition. It attracted great interest and established the Documentation Centre’s reputation among the general public and experts alike as a specialist museum of everyday GDR culture.
In 1996, the Eisenhüttenstadt city council made a fundamental decision to develop the Documentation Centre further. The same year, funding from the European Union and the State of Brandenburg was approved to renovate the museum building in accordance with preservation regulations. The work was implemented in 1998/99.
In 1999, the Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR became a non-profit organisation, largely funded by the City of Eisenhüttenstadt, the District of Oder-Spree and the State of Brandenburg.
In 2001, the museum opened its first permanent exhibition, “Life in the GDR”. It was followed in 2012 by a new permanent exhibition, “Everyday life: GDR”. It was enabled by funds from the Minister of State for Culture and the Media, and the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg.
Also in 2012, the Documentation Centre’s non-profit organisation status was terminated after municipal funds were cancelled. From 2013 to 2015, it again operated as a department of the Eisenhüttenstadt City Museum. Since 2016, the Documentation Centre has been funded by the District of Oder-Spree and the State of Brandenburg.Close
Heritage area of Eisenhüttenstadt
The building of the Documentation Centre is situated in the midst of one of the largest heritage areas in Germany. It was built as a crèche in 1953 and used as a kindergarten until 1990. The building, which has been renovated according to preservation regulations, is part of a Socialist model urban development built in 1951, initially known as Stalinstadt and then renamed Eisenhüttenstadt in 1961.
The new city accommodated workers of the new steel works there, known as the “Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost”, and is an example of social and urban-planning strategies of the GDR in the early years of its existence. It was the fist newly founded city in Germany after 1945. An entire city was built there, based on the “16 Principles of Urban Planning”. It also conformed to the model of a “city at the factory”, which was developed for new industrial centres in the Soviet Union from 1930 onwards.
All of the GDR’s construction styles can be found in Eisenhüttenstadt. Today’s museum building is part of the core of the city, which was built between 1951 and 1961. It forms the centre of the “Children’s Combination”, which consisted of three buildings and served Housing Complex II. The building’s former use is reflected in a leaded window design by Walter Womacka.
Integrating the museum into this historical topography ensures a diverse extension of the tangible history within and outside the museum. The permanent exhibition presents Eisenhüttenstadt in the context of different concepts for new cities. Visitors can use the interactive map of Eisenhüttenstadt to plan an individual tour of the model city.
Architectural and historical guided tours of Eisenhüttenstadt are provided by the city’s Tourist Information.Close
Beeskow Art Archive
The Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR and its partner institution the Beeskow Art Archive is a lively location of cultural memory. The archive has collected an exceptional stock of visual art from the GDR that is of cultural-historical and art-historical interest.
While before 1989, the works belonged to political parties, mass organisations and state bodies of the GDR, they are now owned by the respective federal states. The Beeskow archive stores the collections owned by the states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Today, this pool of collections of state-funded pieces, which came about by chance, provides diverse insight into the cultural and arts system of the GDR: revealing political and social norms, as well as allowing the investigation of their imagery and aesthetic qualities.
Large-scale oil paintings, fragile paper pieces, heavy bronze busts, fine porcelain ceramics, and laboriously woven wall textiles: not only the quantity, but also and especially the diversity of the Beeskow collection provide a series of different angles on 20th-century history. The art archive’s depot not only conforms to modern technical and restoration standards, but also makes it possible to experience their diversity in the architecture.Close
Director, Documentation Centre of Everyday Cultures in the GDR / Beeskow Art Archive
Tel. +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Visitor Supervision/Depot Administration
Tel. +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Visitor Supervision/Public Relations
Tel. +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Tel. +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Depot Administration, Restoration
The Documentation Centre supervises interns studying museum-related or clearly historical courses at universities and universities of applied sciences.
We offer: a project-related internship focusing on the collection, exhibitions and visitor supervision. The relevant internship focus is aimed at the current focus of work at the museum and, as far as possible, the interests of the applicants. We agree on an individually tailored internship with you with binding supervision.
We expect: a high degree of responsibility and commitment, as well as the willingness to actively contribute to a small team.
Requirements: voluntary, required internship or pre-internship for studies as universities, for a duration of no less than four weeks (we recommend longer internship periods).
We regret that we cannot provide payment for your internship.
Tel.: +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55
Funding and partners
The Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR is funded by the District of Oder-Spree and receives privileged project funding from the State of Brandenburg.
Project funding for the permanent exhibition
Funding is also provided by the Minister of State for the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Arts based on a decision by the German Bundestag, and by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg
An association in support of the museum is currently being developed. If you are interested in supporting the Documentation Centre, please contact us at: +49 (0)3364 – 41 73 55Close