Maybe it’s because I loved the TV show Deutschland 83 and the film Good bye Lenin, maybe it’s because I’m forever haunted that a city can be divided in half, or maybe it’s the wild wallpaper… but I really enjoyed visiting the DDR Museum in Berlin. This little hands-on museum is a fascinating look back into the not to distant past to a time when Germany was split. But it’s not just a museum about politics, and not merely a museum about how “terrible” life was behind the Wall. The Berlin DDR Museum is a look at everyday life, products that people used, sports, school, food and how people lived.
Let me share with you the things I saw and some tips for getting cheaper tickets…
Note- All photos were taken by me, and are the property of GermanGirlinAmerica.com
DDR Museum Berlin
She was right.
I could already see the Trabant in the window. Some people were climbing in and “driving” it, others were thunking their hands on the fenders with a look of in-credulousness… I needed to get closer. Fair warning… it isn’t an inexpensive Museum to visit. At the time I went it was 15€ for adults. I was able to save 25 % on my entry fee because I bought a Berlin Welcome Card before leaving home. (My daughter is a student, so she gets discounts everywhere already).
The Berlin DDR Museum is made up of a few large rooms divided by banks of cabinets, each with a specific theme. The cabinets have open windows filled with things, drawers you can pull out and peek into, and some doors that you can open and inspect. Inside you will find EVERYTHING from potty chairs to school books. You really are encouraged to get involved.. not just read. This isn’t a ‘passive’ museum. (Note- you can’t touch everything.. much is now behind glass… but there is still a lot of ways to be interactive with the museum).
The star attraction, of course, was the Trabant. Because the museum was a bit crowded, there was a line to get inside it, but interestingly enough, no one was pushy. When it’s your turn to climb in, you have the option to activate a sort of video game to “drive” through Berlin. The kids (of all ages) really loved this. Getting my hands on the steering wheel, looking onto the back seat, feeling the buttons and knobs… it is amazing that these little cars ran! (And frankly, it’s amazing that despite all the people in and out of the car all day, everything was intact!)
But there was more to see than the car. There was a day care room… set up perfectly.… as if waiting for children to arrive. A woman sat in the corner explaining the child care system. Books were on the shelves as were colorful toys. And I love the multi-child push chair!
There were store shelves loaded with the products. Exactly like you would see in the store at the time (I kept seeing the scene from Good bye Lenin.. and the Spreewald Pickles..)
On the other side of the museum was an apartment, set up exactly as it would be if you were to move in tomorrow. The “Shrank” in the living room, complete with TV. Beds made with feather beds. The Kitchen had the kettle on the stove, and food in the fridge. And the bathroom… oh those German bathrooms of the 60s…
But I absolutely loved the WALLPAPER! Who else remembers these patterns?
Everyday Life in the DDR
Maybe that is what makes the Berlin DDR Museum so special. It celebrates the everyday. From the plastic chicken Egg Cups to the cans of Rotkohl. From puppet theaters to string shopping bags. These are things that people used. This wasn’t just about politics, it was about home, and making the best of what your home is. The Germans in the East were still German, and even though there were some Russian influences, the cookbooks, and the love of Fußball are still strong.
Politics in the DDR Museum
Because politics and Stasi were such a central feature of life in the DDR, there are segments of the museum devoted to them as well. A table in an interview room. A telephone at a desk. Maps and reminders of what happened when people stepped against the rule of the land. But the DDR Museum in Berlin isn’t ABOUT that… it’s about life. So for every object or display about politics was more than balanced by clothing catalogs (oh those fashions!) and vacation photos.
Visiting the DDR Museum Berlin
Because I visited Berlin during the Easter Holidays, there was a line, and the museum was quite crowded. It might be best to plan a visit for mid-week, or in the morning. It’s not a big museum, so you can actually zip through in an hour (or less)… I would suggest you linger a bit, and stay longer. Don’t expect it to take up your afternoon though.
Just inside the door they have lockers to hold your personal items. You do want your hands free to open and touch! And of course, there is the obligatory gift shop where you can buy egg cups, post cards, and pieces of the Berlin Wall (I swear, all those authentic pieces of the Wall… it must have extended to the moon and back!).
DDR Museum Tickets
As I said you can save money on the 15€ tickets by either buying them in advance or purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card for a discount.
Skip theLine VIP Ticket– Purchase these tickets in advance. Choose the day you want to visit (up to a year in advance), and skip the line. This is a great idea for busy times, or traveling with people who HATE lines. Buy it HERE–> DDR Museum Berlin VIP ticket
Berlin Welcome Pass– The Berlin Welcome Pass can be purchased for as many days as you need, comes with discounts on LOADS of museums, attractions, restaurants, has a handy guidebook with map, and you get to ride U-Bahn and S-Bahn as much as you like. If you plan to spend a few days in Berlin, I HIGHLY recommend this pass! Berlin Welcome Pass
Why visit the Berlin DDR Museum?
The Berlin DDR Museum is an interesting and nostalgic look back. I think it’s well worth the experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a feel for life at that time. Then, go up onto the banks of the Spree, sit down in one of the many cafes that line the Promenade, and relish the world we live in now.
Books for Your Berlin Trip
I’m a reader, so I always like to prepare with a book or two about the area I’m visiting. Also, I trust the DK Travel Guides to give good information about where to go and what to see…
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