Second exhibition at Filmmuseum Potsdam, 1994 to 2003

Film City Babelsberg
January 1994 - February 2004

In October 1990, the GDR disappeared to become a part of the enlarged FGR. After a new management, the Film Museum of the GDR was given a new name in the summer of 1990: Filmmuseum Potsdam. The leading positions of all departments were soon newly filled: e.g., the job of the director was given to a woman from East Germany, which was highly unusual during the post-reunification era. The common efforts of the team focused on averting the threatening breakup and on looking for a chance for an all-round renewal. This chance came when the complete interior restructuring of the Marstall was accepted; now, the breakdown of the GDR exhibition on German and East German film history became inevitable in 1992 and the financing of a new permanent exhibition was granted. Having been prepared since 1991, the second permanent exhibition of Filmmuseum Potsdam was opened at the beginning of 1994 after construction works had been finished.

One thing was for sure: the history of Babelsberg’s film production - both a piece of local and of cultural history - would be at the centre of the exhibition. After considering various conceptual versions, project manager and director Bärbel Dalichow decided in favour of a consistently subjective, thematically organised structure. Films from different periods should not be shown chronologically; most notably, they should not be judged superficially from a political perspective.

One film director and one set designer each - both with a filmmaking background at Babelsberg - cooperated in designing a section. This way, eight thematic sections emerged:

"Nimm dich in acht vor blonden Frauen... - Diven und Musik"
("Beware of Blondes ... - Divas and Music")
"Die Sekunde Leben - Film und Wirklichkeit"
("One Second of Life - Film and Reality")
"Anders, fremd, verboten - Künstler kontra Studio"
("Different, Foreign, Forbidden - Artist vs. Studio")
"Gewalt und Krieg", "Märchen, Mythen und Legenden"
("Violence and War", "Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends")
"Wer zuletzt lacht ... - Komödien"
("He Who Laughs Last … - Comedies")
"Unsre Fahne flattert uns voran ... - Propaganda"
("Our Banners Waving Overhead … - Propaganda")
"Liebe, Leidenschaft, Sex"
("Love, Passion, Sex")

Among others, each of the directors Rainer Simon, Ulrich Weiß, Alexander Kleinert and Helma Sanders-Brahms was responsible for one or two rooms. They worked together with set designers such as Lothar Holler, Günther Petzold, Klaus Winter and Ester Ritterbusch.
The museum's film scholars, such as Head of Collections Elke Schieber, cared for the adequate integration of formative films and references to studio history and politics.

The rooms on the two floors differed greatly from each other with regard to design: a tour full of surprises built by the Babelsberg studios. Although computer-based information terminals still had quite a lot of teething troubles at that time, the decision was made to integrate them in order to meet the expectations concerning information about 2,000 Babelsberg films and the artists who had made them. The exhibition contained far more original items than the first permanent exhibition; among them were costumes, photographs and death masks of famous actors, filming equipment, documents, set design sketches, scripts and film clips.

In 1998, the exhibition had to be reduced from 750 square metres to 460 square metres on the first floor as the gound floor of the Marstall was needed for the opulent travelling exhibition "Romy Schneider".

Meanwhile, an extensive collection on the films and life of Hans Albers had been acquired - under the condition to actually present it. Consequently, of all sections the "Love" and the "Comedy" sections had to be cancelled.
At the end of the tour, visitors now entered a Hans Albers room full of original and unique exhibits.

The impression of this staged exhibition, a balancing act between popular and artistically significant films, was well received by visitors (again, the museum counted hundreds of thousands over the 10 years) despite its reduced form - maybe because the exhibition posed a contrast to the fashionable, cool 1990s zeitgeist with its exhibition concepts. However, the museum's exhibition organisers had long since been longing for something new.