On 19 January 1919, women in Germany finally earned the right to vote and stand for election. A century later, the debate on equal rights remains as controversial as ever. In the new wing of the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, our scenography for a major special exhibition lends a topical profile to the women who fought for the vote, and their progressive ideas.
The visitor path on the new 900m2 exhibition space presents the protagonists of the Women’s Rights movement – and with them, one of the most important chapters in German democratic history. Instead of historical patina, the exhibition uses vibrant, contemporary graphic design to show that the struggle for self-determination is not just topical but emphatically ongoing, as demonstrated by the #metoo campaign.
The exhibition is spread across five interconnected galleries that highlight specific phases in heightened form. Topic fields are colour-coded to create chronological ‘chapters’ in a scenography that helps visitors empathise with the stony path to equal rights. To illustrate the diversity of ideas within the women’s movement (many of them controversial), each gallery is introduced by three illustrious activists and their respective standpoints.
At various points in the scenography, Fact Fields and Frankfurt Windows open. The former direct attention to the present day, using apt data presentations; the latter retrace the city as a backdrop for the battle of the sexes. The fifth and final gallery stands at a symbolic fork in the road. One path leads to a narrow cul-de-sac that hints at the repression of Nazi Germany; the other leads to interactive stations that invite visitors to interact and reflect.