Making Museum Design Participatory

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Project description

In the next few years the "Haus der Einwanderungsgesellschaft" (working title) will be opened in Cologne-Kalk. The new museum, jointly financed by city, state and federal funding agencies, will celebrate the history of immigration in post-war Germany and pay tribute to Cologne’s long-standing civic commitment to its now firmly established community of former “guest workers”. The project began in 1990 as a relatively small association of Turkish immigrants (DOMiT). After expanding its collection to more than 150.000 everyday items and documents over many years, DOMiD has become the largest Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany. The newly established museum aims to shed light on how immigration became engrained in German history and continues to influence German society today. As a cultural site and community meeting place, the museum will additionally offer space where central questions of identity, coexistence and civic and societal participation can be discussed.

In order to address the diverse range of societal views, values, experiences and life stories of immigrants, including those of “contract workers” from former East Germany, the organisers based their museum concept on the principle of participation. The plan is to get local citizens involved in the conceptual development of the museum and its collection strategies before – and not after – the museum opens.

The Federal Cultural Foundation is funding the experimental development phase, slated to run until 2024. During this phase, organisers will host four labs – the DOMiDLabs – to explore what citizen participation might look like and how it can be reflected in the future design of the museum. DOMiDLabs will address a number of key questions, e.g.: How do we design a (permanent) exhibition that can respond flexibly to current debates? How can marginalised issues and stories be presented in a respectful and sensitive manner? How can we artistically depict diverse perspectives?

The cooperation between DOMiD and the German Federal Cultural Foundation has a long history: Shortly after the Foundation was established, it funded the conception and realisation of an exhibition entitled “Projekt Migration” at the Cologne Kunstverein in 2005/2006, in which DOMiD (formerly DOMiT e.V.) was extensively involved. The exhibition explored questions on how and to what extent labour migration in the Federal Republic of Germany could be represented and artistically portrayed.

Project manager: Sandra Vacca

Fact box

funding period
realised by
DOMiD e.V.
total funding
800.000 Euro


Uta Schnell

Head of Funding & ProgrammesKulturstiftung des BundesFranckeplatz 206110 Halle (Saale)
Tel: 49 (0)345 2997 118Fax: 49 (0)345 2997 333E-Mail to Uta Schnell