The Open-Air Exhibitions

Stories & Places

Open-air exhibition on the Peaceful Revolution

Revolutions don’t just happen anytime, anywhere. History is written in everyday places and by very different people. This is also true of the events of 1989/90 – one of the most important periods in our recent history. The story of how the Peaceful Revolution unfolded in Berlin is best told by those who witnessed it: at the Gethsemane Church, on Alexanderplatz, at the Brandenburg Gate, on Kurfürstendamm, at the Stasi headquarters, on Schlossplatz and along the East Side Gallery. The open-air exhibitions at these historical locations recalled the events of autumn 1989 and explored the drivers and consequences of the Peaceful Revolution in Germany and abroad.

Interview project with contemporary witnesses

The exhibitions gave voice to a broad spectrum of perspectives. From civil rights activists to church leaders and from foreign workers to journalists covering events in the GDR for West German television – the exhibitions explored both familiar and previously neglected stories. Like a jigsaw puzzle, history is the sum of its parts. Each of the seven exhibitions could accordingly be viewed independently. Together, they presented visitors with a panoramic view of the Peaceful Revolution.

History on location

The open-air exhibitions were open around the clock. Admission was free of charge. 3D video projections were displayed on surrounding building facades after nightfall. Concerts, readings, panel discussions and more were hosted at festival pavilions on site. Further information can be found in our programme.

The seven open-air exhibitions a project of Kulturprojekte Berlin in cooperation with the Berlin Commissioner for the Study of the SED Dictatorship, the Robert Havemann Society and the Berlin Wall Foundation.

The role of the locations

For seven days over the course of the festival week, the story of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Wall was brought to life at the sites where it unfolded: From the processes that led to the formation of the GDR opposition – explored in depth at Gethsemane Church – to the largest demonstration, held on Alexanderplatz on 4 November 1989 , to the scenes of joy at the Brandenburg Gate following the opening of the Wall. On Kurfürstendamm the festival celebrated the first encounters between West and East Berliners.

Elsewhere, we commemorated the occupation of the Stasi headquarters in Lichtenberg on 15 January 1990, which finally deprived the SED of its most important instrument of power, and – in what was probably the greatest success of the Peaceful Revolution – the first free elections and the subsequent establishment of the first freely-elected parliament in GDR history, which were examined on Schlossplatz, now the site of the Humboldt Forum. Finally, at the iconic East Side Gallery, the exhibition explored the symbolic act of cultural appropriation.