Gurbet Şarkıları – Songs from Foreign Lands
Music and Belonging between Turkey and Germany (1961–2021)

12.11.2021 to 20.02.2022

To mark the 60th anniversary of the recruitment agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Turkey, the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic Art) in the Pergamonmuseum is presenting the music exhibition Gurbet Şarkıları – Songs from Foreign Lands. It sheds light on the multiple perspectives of the first “guest worker” generation and subsequent generations by highlighting the relationships between music, individual biographies and social context.

Longing and Identity between the Homeland and the Unknown

Gurbet Şarkıları – from Foreign Lands explores key personal and socio-political issues via music: What did music mean to the first generation of guest workers at the time? How did it reflect their longings, their search for identity in lives lived between the homeland and the unknown, and their experiences of racism? What does music mean to those early guest workers’ children and grandchildren, who are now at home in Germany? In attempting to answer these questions, the exhibition from Foreign Lands draws on the music created by first generation guest workers and their decendants in Germany, where it was listened to then, as it is now.

The exhibition in the MuseumsLab of the Museum für Islamische Kunst is divided into three sections:

  • A Stroll through the Musical Decades from the 1960s to the 2000s
    The first section’s four segments accompany visitors through the decades from the 1960s to the 2000s, presenting well-known musicians with a connection to Germany as well as significance for its Turkish-speaking population now and then. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in each decade’s zeitgeist while learning about the period’s cultural highlights, political milestones and popular performers. The music of the artists portrayed is featured on a media guide, augmenting the multimedia exhibition experience.
  • Personal Stories and Musical Experiences
    In the second section an interview wall uses photos, short biographies and audio clips to allow visitors to delve into the personal stories and musical experiences of persons of Turkish descent who have been living in Germany for one or more generations. Students of musicology at Goethe University Frankfurt spoke with the individuals portrayed on the wall about the role music played in their lives at the time they arrived in Germany and currently.
  • The Paths of Turkish Music in Germany
    The exhibition’s third section shows a documentary by director Mirza Odabaşı, who traces the development of Turkish music in Germany and converses with a number of musicians and the founder of a German-Turkish music label. The film offers perspectives on the history of Turkish-German music that are unfamiliar to the majority society and creates space for critical questions.

A special highlight is the concert Deutschlandlieder, which takes place in the James-Simon-Galerie on 20 November 2021 as part the programme accompanying the exhibition.

A radio programme is also being developed in collaboration with Metropol FM, Germany’s first Turkish-language radio station.

The special exhibition is being realised as part of the project Common Past – Common Future II, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

A special exhibition of the Museum für Islamische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin at the Pergamonmuseum

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© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst

James-Simon-Galerie, Bodestraße
10178 Berlin

partially wheelchair accessible
Please note: Pergamonmuseum is exclusively entered through James-Simon-Galerie!
Site plan: Entrance to the Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum (PDF)

All groups meet at the information desk at the upper foyer in James-Simon-Galerie, entering by using the big stairway.
Advice for group visits to the Pergamonmuseum an the Neues Museum (PDF)

Due to a technical issue, the lift is out of service until further notice, meaning the Museum für Islamische Kunst is not currently wheelchair accessible. The major architectural exhibits – such as the Processional Way, featuring the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus – are still accessible to people with mobility issues. 


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Related Links

Museum and the City: “Vom Tagebau in die ­Tagesschau: 60 Jahre deutsch-türkisches ­Anwerbeabkommen” on the blog of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (German only)