100 Percent Wool
Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin
– 23 June 2019
5 November 2017 saw the opening of the special exhibition of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen in Berlin: it is about wool. The interdisciplinary exhibition aims to explore the origin, processing and cultural background of wool, and to appeal to all age groups, while encouraging visitors to play and participate.
Students in the third semester of their Bühnenbild Szenischer Raum programme at the TU Berlin developed ideas and scenographies for this exhibition, under the direction of Johann Jörg. The exhibition design is by Margaret Schlenkrich and the media staging by Devin Martini.
The topic of wool is well suited for a broad public: the accessibility and the diversity of the points of contact exist for almost everyone. The exhibition is designed to communicate the range of topics interactively. For example, the climbable sheep sculpture makes the origin of the material tangible. In this way, the exhibition appeals to peoples’ sense of nostalgia as well as having sensual and intellectual appeal.
Wool is one of the oldest materials used in European culture, as evident in the word’s Indo-European root and its use in the most diverse range of European languages. The properties of the fibre are manifold: it is water-repellent and dirt-resistant, insulating, flame retardant and moisture regulating. Even today we find it difficult to replace wool with synthetic fibres. The use of wool is hence immensely diverse, ranging from textiles to insulation. Nevertheless, wool production has declined sharply in European countries, and industrial infrastructure (for example, laundries) has gradually collapsed because of globalisation. Weaving mills have relocated and the higher quality of wool from New Zealand, Nepal and South America has shifted the process and processing of wool to non-European countries.
The exhibition aims to provide a comprehensive picture that sheds light on manufacturing processes, shepherd’s lives and shearing, combing and washing, as well as processing into yarns, textiles, and building materials. This highlights the theme of cultural roots in an age where we see so many losses of traditions.