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Publication Released on MEK Research Project “Modegruppen und Textilzirkel in der DDR”

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

During the past 12 months, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (MEK, Museum of European Cultures) has been working on a research project to reappraise and precisely catalogue the collection of some 180 textiles concerned with textile circles and fashion groups in East Germany (GDR). Funding came from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM).

The objects were produced as amateur artistic works within the context of “creative production by the people”. The research findings have now been published in the book Modegruppen und Textilzirkel in der DDR by the Verlag der Kunst.

With this undertaking, the MEK is building on its prior research into textile design in the GDR while also contributing to the reappraisal of the museum’s collection history. This has to do with the fact that the history of amateur textile creation in the GDR and objects associated with it had previously been little researched. Rectifying this was the goal of the one-year project and the resulting publication. Close contact between the MEK and former circle members in Berlin and Brandenburg has existed for some time. The project provided insights into the connection between the museum and amateur textile production that existed during the GDR era. In addition, it was possible to examine parallels and differences between the cultural activities of that time and today’s museum work.

Three Approaches to the Topic

The publication approaches the topic on three levels:

  1. The first section explains the theoretical and cultural policy superstructure.
  2. In the second section, various groups are introduced. The remarks illustrate the intensive contact between the museum and these groups. Short portraits of the participants are also presented, providing insights into the personal worlds and motivations of the individual textile designers. This section draws on interviews with contemporary eyewitnesses.
  3. The catalogue’s concluding section offers an illustrative overview of the collection, which ranges from fashion designs and accessories to pictorial textiles, smaller household textiles and souvenirs. An English-language summary makes the subject accessible to an international audience.

Purchasing the Publication

The publication can be purchased at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen or the webshop of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

Sarah Wassermann, Modegruppen und Textilzirkel in der DDR. Die Sammlung im MEK, Museum Europäischer Kulturen publication series, vol. 21, Verlag der Kunst, 109 pages, numerous colour illustrations, ISBN 978-3-86530-239-7, 14,95 euros.