... and the stars began to shine ... and the stars began to shine
... and the stars began to shine
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur Kassel, Bildarchiv
Photo: Frank Hellwig


21. June 2008 – 14. Dezember 2008

When children die

Nowadays, the death of a child is one of the worst experiences of loss. Whether it occurs unexpectedly or is announced with the diagnosis of an incurable disease – it is always a catastrophe for the affected family.

The exhibition therefore focuses on the question of what makes the death of a child so incomprehensible. It also takes a look back into earlier times to show the change of the most common causes of death and, in addition to that, the change in how we deal with grief. This change is visibly expressed in exhibits through dance of death depictions, epitaphs, coffins, medical objects, but also in musical examples – including Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder based on poems by Rückert – as well as in the design of graves. Furthermore, the exhibition wants to inform about the possibilities offered to families facing the enormous emotional, psychological and social burden. The exhibition also addresses the question of children's confrontation with death, as it can be seen today in drawings, toys, but also in children's fashion.

The productions and collection pieces of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture are complemented by the "Postmortem" project by Berlin artist Anja Sommer. For almost two years Anja Sommer has been working on the process of dying and the death of newborns. In her photo projections, drawings and interviews from the delivery room and neonatology of the Berlin Charité, she illuminates the offers of help that the obstetricians, pediatricians and pastoral workers make to the parents affected.


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Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz