Day 46: Gründerzeitmuseum in Mahlsdorf

by Jon February. 15, 2012 3313 views

We took the S-Bahn out to Mahlsdorf, an area on the edge of Berlin, which is home to the largest collection of Grunderzeit (late 19th century) antiques. The furniture is characterized by a time when industrialization allowed the production of more fancies for more people, though it was still those on top.

The museum was really engaging for many senses. Along with seeing the pieces, visitors are allowed to touch the pieces as they want. The most sensational was the amount of sounds in every room. There were “pianolas,” which are those self-playing pianos, victrolas, and more.

I was expecting the personality of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf to dwarf the visit. Charlotte was born Lothar Berfelde in 1928, as this picture shows. However, Lothar was very sure that he was Charlotte, preferring women's clothing and women's chores. She was, in and of herself, an amazing phenomenon, seeing as she, a transsexual woman, managed to survive at least two repressive and oppressive regimes, namely Nazi Germany and East Germany.

Also, funny coincidence, Charlotte's uncle was one of the three founders of Mercedes-Benz (the once who got forgotten).

However, her story did not overtake the museum. It was just a part of every room in subtle ways. Obviously so, since she had collected each piece. It was a charming visit, holding the history of more than Gründerzeit artifacts, but also the stories of how objects survive the ages (sometimes, by moving an entire Berlin bar into the basement of a house-museum!).

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