Dialogue Museum Frankfurt am Main, photo and description

Dialogue Museum

The Dialogue Museum gives a sighted person a better sense of what blind people experience in their lives.

Behind the curious name “Dialogue in the Dark” are several projects of the same name at once: a museum, a training, an exhibition, and a franchise of an organization called Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH. These projects were created in order to erase social barriers between blind and sighted people, to demonstrate the everyday life of the blind and visually impaired. The founder of the concept of Dialogue in the Dark was Andreas Heinecke, a German journalist, manager and social entrepreneur who implements projects to integrate members of various vulnerable groups into society.

In 1988 Heinecke joined the Association for the Blind in Frankfurt am Main. Here he carried out activities of various kinds to help blind people. For example, with the help of a large computer company, he worked on electronic devices for blind people, published an electronic newspaper and digital directories, and created a database of job advertisements. Thus, he gradually came to the idea that helping blind and visually impaired people should not be about “serving” them, but about their integration into society, about establishing interaction with sighted people – so that they would not be afraid of the blind and would be more willing to come into contact with them. In addition, Heinecke studied the impact of stressful situations on how people perceive the world around them. As he was able to find out, when a person goes through the experience of unconventional sensations, it helps to better assimilate information, as well as to negate stereotypes.

The above ideas eventually led to the creation of an exhibition in Hamburg in 1988. As part of this project, visitors were confronted with situations that could happen in everyday life in total darkness, and learned how to overcome them with the help of blind people as guides. Examples of such situations were a trip to town or a cafe, a walk in the park.

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Created in 1988, the exhibition received visitors in many other countries besides Germany. Later, in 2000, an association called Dialogue in the Dark for the Promotion of Social Creativity emerged from this exhibition in Hamburg. In 2005 Heinecke created the so-called “Dialogue Museum” in Frankfurt am Main – on a permanent basis. At first it was supposed to function for five years, but later the project was made open-ended. This institution employs several dozen people, some of whom are visually impaired or blind. In addition, people from the outside help to run the museum.

The Dialogue Museum immerses its sighted visitors in a unique atmosphere, different from what they are used to in their daily lives. Prior to the tour itself, visitors are given canes to help them navigate in the dark. Once inside the halls, the sightseers gradually become accustomed to the darkness and do the normal things they are used to doing in their daily lives in the unusual surroundings. The only difference compared to ordinary life is that everything happens here in darkness, which means that these seemingly ordinary actions and sensations are perceived differently. The changing sound accompaniment throughout the tour enhances the impression of the sensations received, although there is nothing unusual in what the sightseers will hear. The sounds will be chosen according to the terrain that will be simulated indoors: a park, a city street setting, a water walk, for example.

Feelings as if from actually visiting these places will be anchored by different forms of perception. In addition to hearing the sounds characteristic of these places, visitors will also have the opportunity to touch things, breathe in smells, feel a certain temperature and feel the characteristic surface under their feet, as if it were really not indoors, but, for example, on a city street. And all of this, along with the suggested attempts to perform various actions under these conditions, which the sightseers usually do in their daily lives, but there, outside the museum, they can see very well what is going on. When the tour ends, visitors are given the opportunity to switch from that environment of impenetrable darkness in which they had spent the previous time (from an hour to an hour and a half) and to exchange their impressions and opinions about it.

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In 2008 Andreas Heinecke and his wife Orna Cohen founded Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH, in which they combined their projects, including Dialogue in the Dark. At the same time, ideas for business training sessions began to come to fruition, with the same basis as exhibitions – immersing sighted people in complete darkness, under conditions of which they would have to perform certain tasks. A franchise for these trainings began to spread. These steps allowed Heinecke to start a systematic entrepreneurial activity and gave further development to his projects.

The concept of the “Dialogue in the Dark” project proved to be quite in demand. Similar exhibitions are being organized and continue to open for the first time in many other cities on different continents. Many sighted people have thus been able, thanks to this project, to gain a unique experience of being in the place of a blind person for a while, however small. At the same time, on the other hand, many blind and visually impaired people have mastered the profession of tour guides at similar exhibitions.

Dialogue Museum Frankfurt am Main, photo and description

The Senckenberg Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg) is the second largest natural history museum in Germany and is especially popular with children because of its large collection of dinosaur skeletons.

Museum of Icons in Frankfurt

The Ikonenmuseum’s exposition is based on the collection of Dr. Jürgen Schmidt-Feugt, who donated 800 icons dating from the 16th to 19th centuries to the city in 1988.

Museum of German Architecture

The Museum of German Architecture (Deutsches Architekturmuseum) exhibits a collection of drawings and models, including works by modern classics such as Erich Mendelssohn, Mies van der Rohe and Frank O. Gehry.

German Film Museum

The Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum) exhibit focuses on the history of the film industry.

Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt

The Museum für Angewandte Kunst presents a collection of European and Asian handicrafts from ancient times to the present day. The museum exhibition is divided into several themes: book art and graphics, design and European arts and crafts.

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Regional Art Gallery Frankfurt

The museum was opened relatively recently – in 2000. Various exhibitions are often held in the museum in order to promote the cultural development of the region.

“Alpha-city” Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main or Frankfurt am Main) – the city of Baron Rothschild, the city where the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born, where there are no avenues and castles, but plenty of skyscrapers banks, expensive dressed people, ladies in furs, and more Americans than Germans – has always caused genuine interest among tourists. In this most modern and technologically advanced city in Germany, as a result of its almost total destruction during the bombing of World War II, there are no old houses. Full of dignity, Frankfurt cherishes its past, as you can see by visiting its museums of all kinds, which gives museum lovers something to their liking.

Fans of German literature will find it interesting to visit the house-museum, which was rebuilt after the war and where the talented author, poet, social activist and scholar Goethe was born in 1749 and lived until he moved to Weimar in 1795.

Most of the museums are located in the district of Sachsenhausen, along the bank of the river Main (Museum Embankment), on the south side of the river. These include the Museums of German Architecture, Icons, German Cinema, Applied Art, Communication, the Municipal Sculpture Museum, the Regional Art Gallery, the Steidel Art Institute and the Ethnographic Museum of World Cultures. The old part of the city, on the north side of the river, also abounds with museums, the main ones being the Historical Museum and the European Museum Frankfurt.

The children’s museum in the Hauptwachte (right bank of the river Main) is a great place to spend an entertaining and educational time with the children. Many special projects, especially during the vacations, role-playing games, simulations and musical evenings help to arouse the interest of young visitors in the past.

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Fans of German literature will be interested in the house-museum, which was rebuilt after the war and where the talented author, poet, public figure and scientist Goethe was born in 1749 and lived until he moved to Weimar in 1795. Personal effects, manuscripts, an astronomical clock, a library and the writer’s original desk, restored in the style of fine citizens’ houses at the end of the 18th century, are stored here, giving a general idea of the life and work of the owner.

The Museum Moderne Kunst (“Piece of Cake”), built by architect Hans Hollein in the original form of a cake slice with a glass dome, hosts exhibitions of avant-garde art.

Those interested in finance and economics will find much to learn at the Money Museum, which sheds light on the economic politics of Europe. For those interested in the history of transport in Germany over a period of one hundred and thirty years, starting with the first tramcar (horse-drawn tram) in 1872, the Transport Museum (Werkersmuseum) is located in a former streetcar depot in the Schwanheim district.

Next door to the ruins of the Jewish quarter of the 15th and 18th centuries, in one of the two buildings of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, once owned by the Rothschild family, one can explore the history of Amschel Rothschild’s acquisition of financial power and the title of Baron directly on German soil.

Every museum in Frankfurt am Main is interesting in its own way, and those who wish can go to the one closest to them. Every spring there is the now-traditional Museum Night, and the last weekend in August is a time for the wonderful Museum Embankment Festival.

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