Unknown Treasures

A new exhibition at the Museum der Dinge in Berlin embraces a collaborative curatorial process, using a series of ‘unknown’ objects to explore the stories behind the city and its inhabitants.

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Coat hook from High Heel - heels Design: Susa Pop Manufacturer: unknown, 1990-2000 Material: synthetic Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Image: Armin Herrmann Mousetrap in

A new exhibition at the Museum der Dinge in Berlin is challenging the traditional concept of museology – that knowledge is something to be passed down from the institution to its visitors, who accept this without question. Cabinet of the Unknown turns this concept on its head, by inviting a particular section of the city's Oranienstrasse to redefine the unknown and co-create a new knowledge platform.

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Toothpick holder Design & Manufacturer: unknown, 1950-1959 Material: wood Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Image: Armin Herrmann

As well as objects selected by a curator, the exhibition also features objects by the so-called “cabinet members” from Oranienstrasse. As the starting point of the project, each museum team member was asked to select an unknown object which could be found in the museum’s collection and then to name ‘unknown’ or interesting locations on Oranienstrasse. People from the selected locations were then invited to the museum to discuss these unfamiliar objects with the museum team. They were then asked to find their own mystery object from the collection and, to select their own ‘unknown’ or interesting location in the same area of the city. Over four ‘Cabinet Meetings’ following this methodology the various circles of unknown objects and locations expanded. The exhibition spreads out to five shops in Oranienstrasse, where the unknown objects are displayed. Public discussions will take place during the ‘Cabinet Tours’ on Thursdays and in the various ‘Cabinet Talks.’

The fascinating results take the focus away from the museum as a purveyor of knowledge, expanding its reach and creating a new understanding of and relationship with its audience.

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Mousetrap in shape of a house 'Capito' design: unknown manufacturer: Luchs, Gütersloh, 1920-1935 Material: metal, wood Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Image: Armin Herrmann

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Dice game machine ‘Rovo’, design and manufacturer: unknown Material: metal, Bakelite Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Image: Armin Herrmann

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Two-sided key with bracket for key collar 'Berlin Key' Design: Johann Schweiger Manufacturer: Albert Kerfin & Co GmbH, Berlin, 1912 Material: metal collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge

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Two-sided key with bracket for key collar “Berlin Key” Design: Johann Schweiger Manufacturer: Albert Kerfin & Co GmbH, Berlin, 1912 Material: metal Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge

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Metal compound with hooks Design & Manufacturer: unknown Material: metal Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Image: Armin Herrmann

Cabinet of the Unknown 
28 July - 25 September 2017
Werkbundarchiv
Museum der Dinge, Berlin

museumderdinge.org/