Tag Archives: virtual museum

LeMo Lebendiges Museum Online – A reliable source for an introduction to modern German History

As a German high school or college student, you will be familiar with the scenario: A homework assignment requires you to locate reliable information about William II, the Emperor of the German Empire, and the deadline is tomorrow.  It’s late in the evening, every library is closed, and the only tool left is the World Wide Web.  If this sounds familiar to you, don’t panic. Take a moment and let me take you on a digital journey to Berlin, Germany!

The Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM), physically located in Berlin, Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (HdG) and the German federal archives, the Bundesarchiv,  provide a virtual museum called LeMo, Lebendiges Museum Online. [i] It represents a historically reliable introduction in modern German History and is the biggest virtual museum in the digital landscape in German speaking countries.

LeMo addresses everyone who is interested in German History beginning in 1800 until the present day. It is a virtual museum for everyone – K-12 students, college and university students, adults, including senior citizens.  You as a virtual visitor can access the museum easily from home and are invited to explore the website. The appealing presentation design combined with fascinating objects invite you to browse the site and get trapped in the web of history.

This virtual museum provides introductory texts, images of ancient objects, historical photographs and videos, audio files, biographical stories, pedagogical material and more materials on eleven epochs and topics of modern German history. Each historical period has three levels of telling history:

First, there is an introduction that provides an overview of the content.  So, if you need information about William II. you can click on the topic “Kaiserreich”. There you will find an overview with the most important information to the German Empire in written texts and historical media like paintings and filmclips. This presentation of historical media evokes imaginations and impressions of that specific past and makes it easier to access it. In addition, the texts and side information on the presented objects provide keywords that lead you to further information.

Second, every general topic has a table of content to explore more information on each period of time. If you have additional interest in the foreign affairs of William II. and especially in his colonial policy, the website can assist you. Once you’ve clicked on it indicating that you are interested in gaining deeper knowledge of foreign policies, LeMo provides new subject areas and historical events related to that topic. Then, you can click on “Kolonialpolitik”, colonial policy, to access more information on the colonial beliefs of William II.

Furthermore, the museum provides an overview of historical events of each year, so if you need information on a specific historical event, you can choose this tool of doing research as well. This way, digital visitors get the impression to take a much closer look on a virtual exhibition of a German museum. In addition, if you still cannot find the item you are looking for at first glance, you may take advantage of the search function tailored to support specialized research topics.

The portal was first established in 1997. Its initial goal was to experiment with new technologies and the World Wide Web, still emerging at the time. Therefore, with its early efforts to represent a historical museum online in Germany, LeMo was a pioneer in that time. Since then, the virtual museum has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity and attracts visits from all over the world. Would you have expected that the highest number of visits with more than 100.000 per year comes from the USA? Digital paths of telling history have been and continue to be useful for many people from all over the world. LeMo is free, the only requirement is the ability to read German language.

Whether you are working on a homework assignment that’s due tomorrow, or are just interested in learning about German history, please visit LeMo. Even to me, who is quite familiar with German History, it is every time exciting to visit this virtual museum. I always find new information and get fascinated by the historical media presented on the screen.

Well, are you interested and need assistance? Here we go: https://www.dhm.de/lemo/

[i] Ina Frodermann, Oliver Schweinoch, Email with brochure “LeMo – Lebendiges Museum Online“, February 27, 2020.

Haller ZeitRäume – a virtual museum

Editorial note: Laura Maria Niewoehner is a MA student in history at Bielefeld University. She completed an internship at GHI from January until the end of March 2020, when she had to depart DC early due to the Coronavirus health crisis. Her MA thesis is tentatively titled:“`Kriegsszitterer`, `Kriegsneurotiker` oder `Kriegshysteriker` – Fachaerztliche Wahrnehmung von psychischen Auffaelligkeiten von Soldaten im Ersten Weltkrieg” and analyzes how medical specialists perceived mental illnesses in soldiers during and after World War I. She’s worked at a variety of museums and public history projects, including in Namibia, where she did research for an exhibition dealing with the post apartheid era. She also worked at a regional memorial for POWs of World War II.

Laura is a student assistant for the management team of the Bielefeld-based collaborative research centre 1288 ‘Practices of Comparing” and assists professor Silke Schwandt with her digital humanities work. Laura is very interested in researching the implications of digital research strategies and presentations for historical work, and href was lucky to recruit her as a guest author.

The Teutoburger Forest is rich on having myths and essays about Hermann the German. [i] According to history Hermann, in Latin called Arminius, has fought the battle of Varus against the Roman Empire successfully 9 years AD. [ii]  Because of the crushing defeat of three Roman legions the Empire has sacrificed the further extension of the Roman regions – it remained in German hand.[iii]

In this heart of German history the city Halle is located and the home of approximately 21.700 residents.[iv] This medium-sized city has grown substantially in recent years. The established fashion industry with its most popular brand “Gerry Weber” and the nearby highway have contributed to the growing population. Halle is particularly well-known for its history of transportation and the tennis stadium OWL Arena. Once a year, the best tennis professionals from all over the world visit Halle to participate in the big tournament. In addition, the so called “Haller Willem” was probably the first cab driver in this area. In the 19th century, he transported with his coach people and goods from and to the cities Osnabrück and Bielefeld and contributed to the flourishing of local life.[v] Today this transportation line is a railway line and is named after coach driver Wilhelm Stuckemeyer. Given Halle’s rich industrial history, one could say it is a shame that this flourishing city does not offer its own physical museum. Nonetheless, the city has found an innovative way to make its history accessible to all. The museum manager and historian Katja Kosubek and her team have created a virtual museum that guides digital users back to the beginning of Halle, in Westphalia, up until the present.[vi] As long as you are willing to take a digital path to history, history comes alive in the virtual museum. The virtual museum makes history come alive when someone is willing to take the digital path of history.

The digital museum presents a permanent exhibition with a virtual tour. Every ‘ZeitRaum’ – exhibition room – represents a different topic and phase of time, which are connected to the local history. After “entering” the exhibition room, visitors receive a short introduction of the topic and time period being presented. Visitors also have the opportunity to further explore topics through photographs of historical objects. The range of topics is broad; the time period covered starts in the 17th century and ends with the 2010s highlighting the technical progress of television and development of virtual worlds.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, one can access the so called ‘Geschichtspfade’ – historical walks – to explore the region on foot. Presented with a map, one has the opportunity to use a digital guide to take a walk through history. For example, one can walk to the old cemetry and follow the stations given on the map. If you take your smartphone,  the museum provides additional information on each station of the walk. Furthermore, the museum has designed historical walks for children and also provides rally sheets for schools that may wish to take advantage of the museum’s resources. The virtual museum also offers special exhibitions and publishes articles related to current historical topics.

The virtual museum is presented in German. But for visitors reading German, the museum offers a new and interesting way to explore East-Westphalian history. It provides visitors the option of gaining  deeper knowledge of the town’s history. Hence, it offers insights to historical objects which would not be possible without the virtual museum. Therefore, Katja Kosubeck has created a new way of telling history without going to physical museum. It could be useful for anyone who wants to learn something about German history from a local perspective. Students can use the articles for research or history enthusiasts can improve their historical knowledge by exploring the museum.

Take a click, it is free: https://www.haller-zeitraeume.de/

[i]       This text has been created with the help of Krista Bolton, who has made linguistic corrections before publishing.

[ii]       Benario, Herber, “Arminius into Hermann: History into Legend,” Greece & Rome vol. 51, No. 1, (2004).

[iii]      „Hermannsdenkmal,“ Naturpark Teutoburger Wald, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.naturpark-teutoburgerwald.de/attraction/hermannsdenkmal/.

[iv]     Stadt Halle Westfalen, Zahlen – Daten – Fakten, (acess 2/12/2020 10.34 am).

[v]       „Der echte Haller Willem war ein Fuhrmann“, Stadt Halle Westfalen, accessed March 10, 2020, https://www.hallewestfalen.de/portal/seiten/haller-willem-historischer-fuhrmann–900000558-22700.html.    

[vi]     Haller ZeitRäume Virtuelles Geschichtsmuseum der Stadt HalleWestfalen; (acess 02/12/2020 11.31 am).