Saturday, July 5, 2014

Getting Acculturated in Hamburg

July 5, 2014 - Hamburg, Germany. By Shetay Ashford.

On our first day in Hamburg, we visited the Hamburg Museum, also known as the Hamburg Museum of History, to become acculturated with the area. The Hamburg Museum is one of seven museums, a part of The Foundation Historic Museums of Hamburg, providing its unique perspective of the multi-faceted and diverse city, culture and art history of Hamburg and the metropolitan region.

There were many intriguing exhibits depicting the culture and history of Hamburg. The first floor of the museum consists of Hamburg’s History Tour exhibits, which give a vibrant depiction of its formation (initially referred to as Hammaburg) from the 9th century to current industrialization. One of the most notable exhibits on this floor was a large multidimensional map of Hamburg depicting its overall design, harbors, and ports. There was also a digital map which dynamically populated the city based on the time period, to include the first settlers until the current population.

Exhibits on the remaining floors consisted of artifacts, paintings, and replicas based on the following themes: Hamburg in the 20th Century; Jews in Hamburg; Fashion, Music, Art, and Theatre; Historical Homes; and Model Railway. For more information, visit the Hamburg Museum website.

On the following day, we visited the Museum of Work, which also is associated with the foundation. After a short journey, which included a brisk walk to the airport, brief subway ride, and a short-lived stroll, we arrived at our destination. Upon entry, we were kindly greeted by an English-speaking hostess, who sympathetically granted a group discount, despite that we exceeded the maximum age limit for graduate students.

To guide us on our tour, each person was given a Personalized Digital Museum Assistant (PDMA), including English-speaking commentary, to view exhibits at our own leisure (Sakamura, n.d.).  PDMAs, based on Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) mobile technology, were made popular by the University of Tokyo. In essence, electronic tags are affixed to exhibits and visitors are provided voice commentary upon scanning or keying in associated tag numbers into PDMA systems. The use of PDMAs reduces the need for live guided tours and translators, which likely decrease museum budgets and operating expenditures. For more information about PDMAs, visit:

One of the most intriguing facts that we discovered during our visit was that the Beatles began their career in Hamburg in the 1960s. In fact, the Indra Musik Club, where the Beatles first played from August 17 - October 3, 1960, is still in operation. The club is located at the end of the Gro├če Freiheit street in Hamburg's St Pauli district.

In conclusion, our visit to the Hamburg Museum was very memorable. It was fascinating to learn about the city’s history and culture prior to engage in sightseeing in the afternoon. It is amazing how this town and state has developed into one of Germany’s richest cities after recovering from the Great Fire of 1842, a major outbreak of cholera in 1892, and World War II. Today, Hamburg is noted as one of Germany’s best places for business, media and publishing. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to explore such a cultured place in Germany.