Heimatmuseum, Weener, Ostfriesland (D)

Housed in the former poor-house the Heimatmuseum (museum for regional history) has ample room to store thousands of objects related to the archeology, history, regional culture, trades and industry of the Reiderland.

And … they filled it to the brink. In a short span of time we saw mammoth teeth, all kinds of Roman, Bronze Age, and Iron Age pottery, the inventory of a stone-factory (Ziegelwerk), a smithy, a clock-maker’s workshop, a printer, an optician, mourning attire, a shop-interior, the history and physical geography of the region …. etc etc. I have even discovered some small diorama’s.

They have a great fragment of a sculpted polychrome altarpiece, and of course someone has taken pictures of it!

The museum.

Still, no visitors, two volunteers sitting at a table, talking the afternoon away. Displays, infographics and room-texts that haven’t been reviewed since the 70’s (shiny paper glued on multiplex, and board).

In fact … a pristine environment! So many stories to tell! Let’s bury it under a big pile of sand like we do with archeological findings that have to remain untouched for the next generations. Quickly, we have to hurry, before they get a subsidy and are discovered by people who have followed a course in cultural studies or museum management.

No, seriously, it begs the question. How to reverse the tide. Museum visits are increasing, but that’s only the big and famous ones, and the rise is predominantly in art museums (and within this group predominantly contemporary art of the obvious kind). Cultural heritage as a whole is slipping away. And to be honest, it would demand a lot of tough bargaining to get children (let alone adolescents) to visit a museum like this on a sunny sunday afternoon. But even the usual suspects were missing.

Perhaps reconstructing and visualising the myriads of untold stories could contribute.

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