April 22, 2019

Giant Interactive Model of Berlin Wall Highlights New Exhibit at WCU Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology

West Chester University student co-curators and faculty advisor Michael A. Di Giovine (back row, left) examine a piece of the Berlin Wall on permanent display at the German Society of Philadelphia, on a study trip hosted by the society’s director, Anton “Tony” Michels (center, back row)Exhibit Marks the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

West Chester University’s Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology will preview its newest interactive exhibit, Faces of the Berlin Wall: Divided Lives and Legacies 30 Years after the Fall, during a public opening reception on Friday, April 26, 6-8:30 p.m., at West Chester University, Old Library, 775 South Church Street, West Chester, PA (www.wcupa.edu/museum). The immersive centerpiece of the exhibit is a giant, 10-foot interactive model of the Berlin Wall that divides the museum space, making visitors choose which side to examine first. Mirror-image tableaux greet the visitor: one on U.S. military and Stasi secret police; the other, on the everyday lives of Berliners on the day Ronald Reagan visited. The touchable, interactive concrete model of the wall serves as a memorial for the numerous lives lost in attempting to cross the border. Featuring artifacts from both East and West Berlin, the exhibit includes authentic pieces of the wall, a computer used to crack Soviet codes, toys, military materials, Stasi records of former WCU faculty, and tourist souvenirs.

RSVPs are requested to be made online: https://go.wcufoundation.org/alumni-weekend

With historical artifacts, the exhibition traces the history of the wall, explains its engineering, examines the lived experiences of East and West Berliners, and exhibits the many “afterlives” 30 years following the dismantling of the wall. The exhibition culminates with an exhibit Through their Eyes, which features profiles of four West Chester community members who hail from East and West Germany.

Fifteen undergraduate and graduate students have co-curated this ambitious exhibit from start to finish as part of their Museum Exhibit Design class, which included input from professors in anthropology, art + design, education, history, political science, and sociology, as well as members of the West Chester community who lived in East and West Germany. The student co-curators also collected the oral histories featured.

“Marking the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, the exhibition shows that the Berlin Wall is not just a concrete construction, but a culmination of lived experiences that has had a significant cultural impact on Germans and the global community, and continues to be relevant thirty years later,” says West Chester University anthropologist and museum director Michael A. Di Giovine, a specialist in museum and heritage studies.

Also opening in conjunction with this exhibition is the European Union-sponsored photo exhibition, Witnesses of Stone: Monuments of the Socialist Past in Bulgaria, curated by anthropologist Nikolai Vukov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Postcard Vacations: The Many Faces of Travel and Leisure behind the Berlin Wall, curated by anthropologist Rossitza Ohridska-Olson, also from Bulgaria. Both of these will be on display in the Francis Harvey Green Library through the summer. Vokov will deliver a public lecture at Philips Conference Room on Thursday, April 25, 3:30-4:15 p.m., and will be at the exhibition opening to give remarks.

Those in attendance at Friday’s opening reception will be treated to a mini lecture about the exhibit by Di Giovine, Vukov, and Marwan Kreidie, professor of political science. For more information, visit www.wcupa.edu/museum .

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