The Story of My Life

Object Biography as Concept, Method and Genre

19 Jan – 4 Sep 2023

Every thing has a life of its own – but can things tell their own stories?

A proud teapot and a homeless drum, a belligerent chamber pot and an antique gold coin, Goethe’s shoe buckle and Lou Reed’s wax doll, a depressed mobile phone, Kafka’s Odradek, Bernd the Bread and 50 other things provide answers in the exhibition „The Story of My Life. Object Biography as Concept, Method, and Genre.“

Countless object stories arise between production, use, loss or repair. Objects are gifted, sold and auctioned, loved and kept, collected and exhibited, they disappear and are found again, they are stolen and sometimes returned. They travel around the world or lie in drawers and depots for years. They get broken, thrown away, restored and recycled. Things – in other words – have a life. Researching and narrating them is of interest where things are produced and consumed or collected and stored.

The concept of object biography makes it possible to connect different stages, events and relationships in the life of a thing into a narrative. In this process, what is not yet known about materiality, whereabouts or ownership is also revealed.


Ann-Sophie Lehmann (University of Groningen) and Imke Volkers (Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge).
Curatorial assistance: Alexander Renz (Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge).

With loans, projects, and works by a.o.

  • Arjun Appadurai
  • Christien Meindertsma
  • Goethe-Nationalmuseum Weimar
  • Museum August Kestner
  • museum oder-spree
  • Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin
  • Museum der Unerhörten Dinge
  • Museum Neukölln
  • Haus der Geschichte
  • Leyla Acarogly
  • Lisa Pranter
  • Leon Kahane

With texts by

  • Philipp Blom
  • Annett Gröschner
  • Axel Ruoff
  • Elisabeth Wellershaus

In cooperation with