Visit the DDR Museum Berlin- An Interactive Museum of East Germany
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 the DDR Museum in Berlin ranks as one of my favorite German museums. 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 ia not 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.
The good, the bad, and the outrageous wallpaper.
The Wohnzimmer Schrank
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!
Day Care Room
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…
The Wohnzimmer Schrank
Puppet theater in the bedroom
But I absolutely loved the WALLPAPER! Who else remembers these patterns?
And of course, the Sandmännchen!!! Read more about him here–> Sandmännchen!
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.
My Parents LOVED Staying at the Marriott Bonvoy in Berlin
The Marriott is centrally located, near U Bahns and S Bahns… and you get a wonderful German Breakfast!
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
Buy advance tickets here DDR MUSEUM TICKETS
You can save money on the tickets by either buying them in advance or purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card for a discount.
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…
DK Eyewitness Berlin (Travel Guide)GDR-Guide: A companion to the permanent exhibition
More ideas for your visit to Berlin
I have been there in 2003, with my nephews East German wife. War sehr schoen und interesant.
I visited Berlin a few years ago and of course, we went to see de museum of de DDR and we look into the nostalgic times of Socialism, the not too distant on time “Communist Germany”, we enjoy our visit, we got our pictures next to Marx and Engels statues across the street from this Museum and lather on……………..we lost the camera!