The Centre for Cultural Education is a building designed specifically for visitors to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
The four floors of the former gallery spaces ‒ from the ground floor to the centre’s uppermost level ‒ have been redesigned into spaces for learning, communication and activities. From its central location, Haus Bastian offers children, adolescents and adults an ideal starting point from which to fan out and explore the collections on the Museumsinsel (Museum Island).
Its spacious rooms invite visitors to process, enlarge upon and discuss their observations, experiences and questions in a creative environment. Haus Bastian also offers a forum to debate current and future-oriented questions concerning educational work in museums.
Cultural education and visitor orientation are key objectives of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Forming an ensemble with the James-Simon-Galerie ‒ the visitor centre on the Museumsinsel that opened in July 2019 ‒ Haus Bastian represents the institution’s aspirations for education and outreach at a prime location. The exceptional architectural quality of the building by architect David Chipperfield also underscores an important gesture: No other cultural institution has dedicated such a prominent building to cultural education.
The Museumsinsel Berlin is the original site and at the heart of Berlin’s museum landscape. There is no better place to elucidate the concept of an historically-established museum entity with its encyclopaedic collections than at Haus Bastian. Cross-collection dialogues, as well as interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methods, are instrumental to the approaches of the new educational centre. Visitors can trace connections between cultural assets of art, archaeology and ethnology, spanning an arc from prehistory and early history up to the present day. Twice a year, the new educational centre will make use of “Verstärker” (enhancers) to explore cross-sectional themes in an exemplary way and with a high degree of visibility.
One of the prime objectives of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is to open institutions that meet the needs of all social groups and members of the urban community. The location of the new educational centre on the Kupfergraben, which marks a transition from urban space to the Museumsinsel, should be interpreted programmatically. A structure of offers was developed in cooperation with diverse societal target groups in mind, which takes visitors’ interests into account, opens new scopes for creativity and activities, and also supports underrepresented user groups.
The programme of the new cultural education centre is divided into two sections: public and professional. These do not exist side by side in isolation, however, but intersect in their working methods and effects.
A diverse structure of offers aimed at museum users includes project days or weeks, workshops, seminars, and other types of group sessions. Cooperation with educational institutions such as schools, daycare centres and universities, children’s and youth facilities characterises Haus Bastian’s programme structure just as much as cooperation with specific special interest groups and communities. Certain offers also go into effect to meet leisure-time pursuits of children, teenagers and adults.
Working groups, conferences and other formats are aimed at specialists in the fields of education, art and culture, politics and society. Topics such as social participation, inclusion or political education in museums will be discussed and debated on an interinstitutional and interdisciplinary basis. Through the development of flexible network structures and regular events, Haus Bastian is expected to establish itself as a local, national and international meeting place for professionals in museum education. A differentiated continuing education and advanced training programme is available to teachers, museum staff and others who work in education.
In large regional and supraregional educational projects, Haus Bastian will be used to navigate and debate central questions about education and outreach work in museums. The conceptual parameters combine experimental and reflective work processes. Types of activities and communication associated with educational work and outreach programmes will be tested and evaluated in cooperation with different user groups and specialists, strategies and formats. Possibilities for transferring such programmes to other museums are to be demonstrated here.
As of September 2019, the programme for the Centre for Cultural Education will be continuously developed and expanded. This development will take place in close exchange with the users and specialists from the public and professional programme areas. A comparison will also be made vis-à-vis the guidelines and objectives of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Education, Outreach, and Visitor Services Department, as well as with the museum collections.
During its initial phase, the programme structure introduces Haus Bastian’s objectives, potential and possible uses. For example, systematic development of various cross-disciplinary topics is to be carried out every six months with the help of “enhancers”: By focusing on a “setting” that provides the impulses within these selected themes, new topics can be treated from various perspectives. Moreover, beginning in September 2019, diverse interest groups will develop their ideas for the future use of Haus Bastian.
Educational work and outreach programmes require spaces that serve different needs, actions and social forms. With this in mind, the former gallery spaces at Haus Bastian were converted into diverse spaces for learning, communication and activities. The centre’s interior design was realised in collaboration with raumlabor berlin.
In interplay with the historical exhibition spaces of the museums and their exteriors on the Museumsinsel, the spatial arrangement at Haus Bastian offers outstanding prerequisites for a subtly differentiated programme and service structure. The available spaces include an “enhancer” activity space on the ground floor, two spacious “workshop all-rounders”, a large “seminar all-rounder”, a media workshop, a conference room and a library.
The programme for the Centre for Cultural Education falls under the responsibilities of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Education, Outreach, and Visitor Services Department. It is the central educational institution of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and as such, it is entrusted with the conception and implementation of offers for all 15 collections.
Haus Bastian plays a key role in the institution’s overall strategy. It opens up new avenues and opportunities for active participation, raises overarching questions and cross-cutting issues that should be addressed in education and outreach work. This takes place in an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary manner, based on experimentation and reflection. The goal is to apply the knowledge and experiences gained to all of the institutions that make up the Staatliche Museen. In this sense, Haus Bastian is expected to act as a catalyst for the further development of cultural education.