The Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge (Werkbund Archive – Museum of Things) chronicles the product culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, a culture marked by mass production and industrial manufacturing.
At the core of our institution is the archive of the Deutsche Werkbund (DWB). Founded in 1907, this group of German artists, designers, and manufacturers was one of the leading organizations pushing for a cultural utopia achieved through design and way-of-life reforms at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge is as an autonomous organization, aware of and stemming from this Werkbund tradition. Our goal is twofold: to preserve and document material associated with and advocated by the Werkbund, and to foster contemporary interpretation and reflection thereupon.
The Museum der Dinge, a publicly funded institution, has been documenting modern material culture and product culture by collecting design-historically significant objects and archival materials since the 1970s. The resulting collection consists of mainly 20th century articles totalling approximately 40,000 documents and 40,000 objects.
Unlike many other museums, the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge was not structured or conceptualized in isolation; rather, it maintains several points of contact to other museums in Berlin. By enabling interdisciplinary research of cultural, technical, and functional histories, the Museum der Dinge promotes a sociologically oriented reconstruction of the perception of things in an industrial society.
Working within a framework of varying exhibition projects, the Museum der Dinge continually reconsiders, refines, and develops its collection.
As a museum concept, the Werkbunkarchiv – Museum der Dinge is perceived as a museological laboratory, with the aim of creating new experiences with and making observable the history of objects in the 20th century as it emanates from contemporary product culture. The museum space itself, the effect of the museological structure on the status of the collected objects, as well as the possibility of aesthetic cultivation in its exhibits, are thereby imperative to the self-perception of the museum.
Aside from the general goal of representing cultural history, the Museum der Dinge also sees its primary task as that of creating a central educational and socio-political forum.
As is apparent in our exhibitions and collections, the museum strives to cultivate an educational laboratory and a ground for intellectual experimentation. Our long-running and successful program of events (exhibitions, lectures, and seminars) has helped develop the museum into a didactic and experiential platform of aesthetic design analysis for students of art, design and museum sciences. The museum is meant to be a place of interdisciplinary research, promoting communication systems between fields, where students and academics alike can be lead to discover, analyze, and understand design and culture.