Participatory matters: access, migration, and heritage in Berlin museums
This chapter takes as its subject the relationship between heritage, migration, and a city, with special emphasis on access and participation in a museum context. Approaching local museums as ‘agents’, as Kirshenblatt-Gimblett noted, of urban heritage, I primarily examine the practices of the Friedrichshain–Kreuzberg Museum and its engagement with recent developments, including the ‘refugee crisis’, which is also termed “a reception crisis, a solidarity crisis” (Christopoulos & Souvlis, 2016) or the “long summer of migration”—the phrase favoured, albeit not exclusively, by some scholars in the German setting. I also look at the exhibition daHEIM: Glances into Fugitive Lives at the Museum of European Cultures in Berlin’s Dahlem neighbourhood. Against the backdrop of debates on displacement and mobility, I ask how migration informs museum practice in terms of access and participation. What do city and neighbourhood museums mean when they declare that they foster participation in their spaces? And how do they make it happen? These are pertinent questions worth investigating with regard to heritage-making in cities. My chapter reflects upon some aspects of those processes, keeping in mind the idea of securing heritage for the deliberations falling within the scope of this volume.