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“Mein München” exhibition

Skateboarders with local color

Munich, 03/28/2013

Looking for something to do over the Easter holiday? Try the exhibition “Mein München” in the Munich City Museum. The show illuminates many facets of life in Munich - and gives an idea of how students view the modern city.

Graffiti - Photo: Z-ROK

Students at LMU’s Institute for Folklore and European Ethnology labored for three semesters on the project “Mein München”. They selected topics for the show, spent hours discussing which ones were most important, and finally brought everything together to form a coherent whole. The concept that finally emerged has been a great success so far, and usefully complements the permanent exhibition, entitled “Typisch München”, in the Munich City Museum by adding new aspects and new angles. The exhibition is open until the middle of May.

The permanent exhibition is organized chronologically in five historical periods and explores the question of what is “typical” for Munich. The items selected for display by the students supplement this approach by drawing attention to facets of urban history that have been neglected up to now. Visitors are taken through 13 separate sections, each offering an unconventional view of an element of the city’s life that is generally overlooked. In one segment of the show, the muffled everyday noises and notes characteristic of urban spaces are rendered audible and their source locations indicated in a model. Meanwhile, upstairs in the Hörbar, visitors can choose tracks to play from a range of music composed, produced or performed in Munich, effectively adding their own “compositions” to the city’s soundscape. This part of the exhibition was conceived and assembled by Christoph Gürich (24), whose eye was caught by a reference to the project in the University calendar. “It sounded interesting, and offered a chance to do something practical,” he says. In the course of his work on the concept for the Hörbar, he came into contact with many interesting artists and experts, as well as leading figures of the musical scene in Munich, and became familiar with the city’s clubs. But it wasn’t only his conversations with the specialists that Gürich found fascinating. “I would never have guessed that the project would expand so much. But seeing the result, and observing how visitors to the exhibition react to what I put together, I have to say it was well worth it.”

Graffiti on museum walls
But the exhibition has more to offer than the sounds of the city, there are lots of interesting objects and images to reflect on and enjoy. Its makers have brought works by the Munich sprayers Loomit, Z-ROK and Flin, discovered on facades, bridges and railway cuttings in town, into the museum. Club culture can also be experienced within its walls, and visitors can discover it had its attractions even a decade ago. This is evidenced by the exhibits devoted to the REGISTRATUR. As “interim user” of a site in the Blumenstraße, the club set a new standard for the scene, and the turntables and the mirror ball can now be found doing their stuff between the display cases in the museum.

Photo: Münchner StadtmuseumAnother intriguing topic highlighted in Mein München is the interaction between the forces of globalization and the reassertion of locality and localization, which has become a hot topic among cultural anthropologists. This theme is exemplified by exhibits focusing on Munich’s skateboarders, who combine the ubiquitous marks of global youth culture with fashionable versions of local classics, such as the Lederhose and the distinctive Bavarian felt hat. They also decorate their decks with iconic symbols of Munich, such as the Blacksmith from Kochel or the famous Münchner Kindl.

The culture of protest in Munich also finds its place in the exhibition. Banners once borne by demonstrators protesting against the annual Munich Security Conference are on display, and recall the creativity and commitment of the antiwar protesters who designed them. One can almost hear their slogans echoing through the galleries ... The research for this section was done by Katharina Hildebrand (24), who has brought together some interesting material. “The Conference was held for the 50th time in 2012, and I was simply intrigued by the subject,” she says. “People tend to have a very hazy idea of what we study, and can’t imagine what we actually do. With this project, one has something solid to show them.” In order to present her theme in a vivid and compelling way, she herself participated in the Conference, took photographs, made sound recordings, spoke with groups of activists, and collected banners. She is now considering the possibility of working in a museum later on. “I thought it was great that I was able to make most of the decisions on my own. It was a lot of work, but I learned a great deal, and it was certainly all worthwhile.”

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