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New Online Platform on Throwaway Culture with Objects from the Museum Europäischer Kulturen

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

The multilingual and interactive online platform Throwaway: The History of a Modern Crisis is now available. It offers object biographies for over seventy digitalised objects for the collections of participating museums, audiovisual stories from Europe on the topic of rubbish, blog posts, photo reportages, live event broadcasts and podcasts on many different activities and events.

Rubbish is perhaps the most visible and tangible aspect of the looming environmental crisis. The online platform Throwaway sheds light on the unknown history of Europe’s rubbish and follows the social transformation of our throwaway society. Ten European museums, including the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (MEK, Museum of European Cultures), are participating with objects and stories surrounding the topics of throwing rubbish away, reusing it, and avoiding its production. The project was initiated by the House of European History (HEH), Brussels.

Menstrual Waste: Object Biographies and Film Histories from the MEK

The MEK has contributed six object biographies and seven filmed stories on menstrual waste to the platform. A sanitary napkin from the 1930s made of knitted material represents the use of textile-based, washable menstrual products that endured until the 1950s. Throwaway sanitary pads then became widespread. Technological developments, including ultra-thin, winged sanitary pads, resulted in greater comfort but also ever more waste. Special hygiene bins and paper bags were introduced in women’s toilets for their disposal. A washable sanitary napkin from 2020 ultimately tells the story of a rediscovery and further development: The long-despised cloth napkins have been experiencing a renaissance since the 2010s under the keywords “waste avoidance” and “sustainability”. The seven film stories by filmmaker Theo Thiesmeier revolve around what we actually know about the waste caused by throwaway menstrual products. The objects and films will also be shown in Flow: The Exhibition about Menstruation at the MEK beginning in October 2023.

An International Multilingual Collaborative Project

The Throwaway platform is a project of the House of European History in Brussels, organised in collaboration with the Estonian National Museum in Tartu , the Fondazione Museo Ettore Guatelli in Ozzano Taro, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Museum of Walloon Life in the province of Liège, the Museum of Recent History in Celje, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest, the Natural History Museum in Vienna, the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, and the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in Vienna. The platform is available in French, English and German, as well as in machine translations for all of the European Union’s other official languages.