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Project T: Exhibition »Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms«

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Gorch PiekenProf. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff

Research associate:
Katja Widmann

Involved disciplines:
art history, classical archaeology, museology

Project Partner:
Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr (Bundeswehr Centre of Military History and Social Sciences, ZMSBw)


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This project takes its starting point from the ongoing, increasing social relevance and prevalence of the SFB’s topic “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms”. Public visibility has been important to the SFB since its first funding period; now, the SFB is tapping into the possibilities of museums and exhibitions as places of knowledge transfer and testing grounds for its research. T is developing an exhibition for the research at the SFB, a process that complements the third funding period’s focus on academic syntheses and new perspectives. The exhibition is being developed in cooperation with the Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr (Bundeswehr Centre of Military History and Social Sciences in Potsdam, ZMSBw), whose Museums of Military History (MHM) have distinguished themselves through their innovative exhibitions, cultural-historical perspectives, and good public visibility (for example, the exhibition “Gewalt und Geschlecht. Männlicher Krieg – Weiblicher Frieden?” [Gender and Violence: War is for Men – Peace is for Women?], 2018: MHM Dresden).

The MHM at Berlin-Gatow airfield, the largest museum in Berlin in terms of area, will be the venue for the SFB’s exhibition, which is due to open in the late summer of 2023. The results from all three funding periods will be translated into an original exhibition concept in partnership with the ZMSBw, thereby generating new perspectives on the SFB’s research. As there is a persistent connection between the heroic and the military sphere, the MHM is a natural home for this exhibition, which will explore and critically evaluate this interdependence as one aspect of the diverse phenomena of the heroic. With its state-of-the-art, multimedia exhibition, T will present controversial debates on heroes, based on the SFB’s research results, in order to demonstrate how cultural studies and history contribute to topical questions of the past and present. The exibition will achieve three important goals. Firstly, by experiencing the immersive exhibition, visitors can perceive, understand and critically evaluate the field of the heroic. They will be able to explore the relationships between the objects and themes, as well as relate them back to their own experiences. Secondly, the presentation of research in an exhibition setting will aid the re-evaluation and synthesis of the SFB’s results. Thirdly, the exhibition will become a hub, as new knowledge will emerge in the conceptual work and in the exchange with the public, and can thus have an impact back on the university research of the SFB. Through this process, the SFB’s research will integrate input from the audience’s involvement in the interactive exhibition.