There’s a Fair Upstairs,

or Why Toy Dogs Aren’t Allowed in the Museum

A small dog in a bag

Photo by Gertraud Zimmermann from an article on www.myheimat.de

Some time ago an entire extended family from Berlin wanted to visit the Jewish Museum Berlin, with grandma and the whole kit and caboodle—including their toy dog Choux-Choux. Heading in towards the permanent exhibition, every member of the family passed through the ticket check smoothly … except the father. This well-built gentleman was carrying a little bag under his arm—with a tiny dog peaking out of it.

The museum’s hosts amiably informed the patriarch that the dog was permitted in the lobby and museum garden, but not in the exhibitions. They did not, however, encounter much forbearance and a heated discussion ensued. The argument went, “This is a toy dog. He’s allowed everywhere!” The surprised hosts, who had up till that moment never heard the term ‘toy dog,’ followed up on the unresolved question: why in fact couldn’t Choux-Choux come into the museum?  continue reading


Saving a Cat

Everyday Absurdities at the Museum

Sometimes even a museum’s normal workday provides surprises. About a week ago I found in my postbox a letter from the provincial capital of Stuttgart, specifically, from its office for public order.

A cat in the grass next to a fence

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This work by Iris Blochel-Dittrich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Information about fines and tickets occasionally lands on my desk, since I am in charge of a team that travels around Germany in our museum bus doing mobile educational work at schools. In the struggle against ignorance and anti-Semitism, speed is of the essence. So I flipped through to the second page to ascertain how much we owed this time: € 104,80. For animal custody and veterinary services?! This is no normal parking ticket.

I turned back to the first page and read the letter from top to bottom: “Saving Ms. K’s cat.” Did my colleagues run over a cat, or did they find one and take it to the animal shelter?  continue reading