Gay museum

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Schwules Museum, current location: Lützowstraße  73 in Berlin-Tiergarten

The Schwule Museum in Berlin was founded on December 6, 1985. In exhibitions, events and archive work, it deals with lesbian , gay , transsexual , bisexual and queer life stories, topics and concepts in history, art and culture. The museum rooms were located on Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg from 1989 to March 2013 , before they were relocated to Lützowstraße  73 in the Tiergarten district in May 2013 .

History of the Gay Museum

Museum shop of the Gay Museum, 2015
Entrance to the former gay museum in Kreuzberg from 1988 to 2013
Schwules Museum, Mehringdamm location - sign

In 1984 took place in West Berlin Berlin Museum (the later with the Berlin East Märkisches Museum was merged) at the initiative of student museum guards - Andreas Sternweiler , Wolfgang Theis and Manfred Baumgardt - the "Eldorado exhibition - Gay men and women in Berlin 1850 –1950 "took place. It was curated by the initiators in collaboration with a group of lesbian activists. After its great success - over 40,000 people visited the exhibition - the exhibition organizers had the idea of ​​continuing this type of work in their own museum. On December 6, 1985, the “Association of Friends of a Gay Museum in Berlin e. V. “founded. The  foundation for a museum library and archive was laid in the premises of the AHA General Homosexual Working Group at Friedrichstrasse 12, and this is where the first exhibition took place in 1986: "Yuck - 90 Years of Homopress". On the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin a year later, the Schwule Museum showed the exhibition "750 Warm Berliners".

In 1988, the museum moved to the museum rooms at Mehringdamm 61, where more than 130 exhibitions were realized by 2013, and then moved to the building at Lützowstrasse 73 in Berlin-Tiergarten. There the Schwules Museum has four exhibition rooms, a café, a reference library with research areas for users, offices and a workshop as well as an air-conditioned archive.

Renaming to Schwules Museum *

Originally, the aim of the museum's founders - Andreas Sternweiler, Wolfgang Theis, Manfred Herzer and Manfred Baumgardt - was to use the exhibition to make the diversity of gay life accessible to a broader public and to ensure that gay history was scientifically processed and researched. This should make gay life visible and present and promote tolerance and acceptance of gays in order to counteract discrimination and to strengthen gay self-confidence and identity.

Since 2008, the content has been realigned, which, in addition to male homosexuality as an object of collecting, research and exhibition activities, also includes other sexual orientations and gender identities , primarily those of lesbians and transgender people. This should be expressed by adding the asterisk ("*") to the name "Schwules Museum *". It stands for a variety of sexual and gender identities.

Permanent exhibition

From December 2004 until the move in May 2013, the permanent exhibition “Self-confidence and perseverance. 200 years of gay history ”. For the period from 1790 to 1990 it presents strategies, possibilities and problems for homosexuals to lead a self-determined life, to find like-minded people and to organize networks. This is contrasted with the social and legal conditions, such as § 175 and the associated exclusion, persecution and punishment of homosexuals as well as the successes of the gay movement .

Special exhibitions

Since it was founded, the Schwules Museum has shown around 150 exhibitions, such as those on Oscar Wilde , Marlene Dietrich , Greta Garbo , Rosa von Praunheim and Ludwig Wittgenstein . Historical expositions highlighted individual epochs or historical developments in a differentiated manner, such as “Goodbye to Berlin. 100 Years of the Gay Movement ”(1997 in the house of the Academy of Arts in Berlin-Tiergarten). With the exhibition “Persecution of Homosexual Men in Berlin 1933–45” in cooperation with the Sachsenhausen Memorial , the topic of gays during the Nazi era was dealt with.

In 2015 the Schwules Museum presented its largest exhibition to date with “Homosexuality_en”. In cooperation with the German Historical Museum , diverse exhibits on the history of queer culture and emancipation were shown for half a year.

Archive of the Gay Museum

In the archive of the gay museum you can research the culture, history and movement of homosexual and transgender people from all times. Magazines from Germany since 1896, from Europe and the world are collected, cataloged and continuously updated here. In addition to the written archive, the archive also includes a collection of photos, videos, films, posters, autographs, works of art and bequests.

The international reference library comprises around 19,000 titles - mostly " gray literature " and university papers - from all areas of male homosexuality with a major focus on art. In addition, around 3,000 international magazine titles, around 4,000 films and other media such as records, cassettes, tapes, CDs and digital copies are part of the library of the Schwules Museum. It also collects literature on female homosexuality and standard literature on transgender and intersex lifestyles as well as queer issues.

The archive is used by scientists from all over the world. There are also collaborative relationships with universities and research institutes.

Structure of the gay museum

The gay museum is sponsored by the non-profit "Association of Friends of the Gay Museum in Berlin e. V. ”, founded on December 6, 1985. In addition to the institutional funding from the State of Berlin, membership fees and donations are an indispensable source of income.

In addition to the board of directors, 17 full-time workers are employed in the gay museum. A large part of the day-to-day operation is ensured by almost 60  volunteers .


  • Schwules Museum (ed.), Andreas Sternweiler: Self-confidence and perseverance. Two hundred years of history. Self-published, 2004.
    English: Self-Awareness and Persistence. Two Hundred Years of History. Self-published, 2004.
  • Schwules Museum und Akademie der Künste (Ed.): Goodbye to Berlin? 100 years of the gay movement. pink angle, 1997, ISBN 3-86149-062-5 .
  • Association of Friends of a Gay Museum in Berlin V. (Ed.): Eldorado. Homosexual women and men in Berlin 1850–1950. History, everyday life and culture. 2nd edition Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-89468-032-6 .

Web links

Commons : Schwules Museum  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Nadine Lange: The shift in the middle. In: . June 26, 2015, accessed February 13, 2020
  2. Dirk Ludigs: Future of the Gay Museum Berlin - As in a broken marriage. In: Retrieved December 6, 2018 .
  3. Kevin Clarke: Volunteers are throwing the gay museum *. In: . December 26, 2014, accessed January 28, 2020.

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 15.6 "  N , 13 ° 21 ′ 28.3"  E