Born in 1918, two minutes from his parents’ perfumery on Kurfürstendamm

Fritz Scherk and the history of a family business in Berlin

Black-and-white photography of a laughing toddler sitting on a chair next to a birthday table.

Fritz Scherk on his second birthday, Berlin, May 26, 1920; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Irene Alice Scherk, photo: Jens Ziehe

A beaming toddler sits naked on a lavishly laid birthday table, apparently having the time of his life. A photo like this could easily have been taken today, I thought, when I saw it in the diary that Ludwig and Alice Scherk kept for their son Fritz. In fact, the happy child would have turned 100 today. Being born in 1918 didn’t exactly promise a peaceful life, especially not for a member of a German-Jewish family. Actually the family’s second child had been planned for 1916, three years after the birth of their first son, but the outbreak of war got in the way. But on May 26, 1918, the time had come: Fritz was born next to his mother’s Bechstein piano—by candlelight because of the war, and just two minutes away from his parents’ business, the Scherk Perfumery on Kurfürstendamm.  continue reading

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Why the Jewish Museum Berlin has every reason to finally open a children’s museum in 2019

A little story about a revolutionary kind of museum

Scetch of the ark

In the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy construction is currently underway on a Noah’s Ark-themed children’s museum; Jewish Museum Berlin, Olson Kundig Architecture and Exhibit Design, Seattle/WA, USA

 

“Do not touch!”—These three words are irrevocably associated with traditional museums. They denote an institutional balancing act. On the one hand, the historical objects and works of art that are gathered in museums are supposed to be made accessible to the public. On the other hand, the objects must be protected from the damage that might be done by overenthusiastic visitors. Despite what museologist Fiona Candlin describes as “low-key unauthorized touch”—stroking statues when unobserved, secretly tracing hieroglyphics with an index finger—a visit to a museum remains a mostly visual experience.  continue reading