The Museum for Sepulchral Culture has existed since 1992 and is dedicated to the issues of dying, death, burial, mourning and remembrance. By providing information, advice and mediation in a varied programme of exhibitions and events, it is possible to initiate discourses that on the one hand accompany the change in sepulchral culture in a lively manner and on the other hand offer the opportunity for a conscious examination of one's own finiteness.
The central tasks of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture and the associated Central Institute are to research, promote and communicate the cultural heritage in the areas of burial, cemetery and monument conservation. They inform the public about the social consensus – but also about legitimate conflicts – on how to deal with dying, death and mourning, and illustrate the cultural-historical background and changes associated with this. The foundation of the museum is the sepulchral culture that has developed in the German-speaking world. Objects from the 15th century to the present day show how burials were held in Germany, how the dying was accompanied and how the deceased was remembered. Social changes, which in turn have an impact on the local burial culture, are also taken into account. The permanent exhibition already includes a section on multicultural forms of burial. The museum would like to expand this area in the future by means of an intercultural project. The museum plans to carry out a complete renovation after the next documenta in 2022. The permanent exhibition is to be expanded and redesigned, for example with media stations that contextualise the individual object and tell its story. Current topics such as "suicide", "euthanasia" or "organ donation" will then also play a role.
"In order to give the museum with its topic the opportunity to really have an impact on society, it should become an even stronger meeting place than it already is"
Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann
In order to meet the constant changes in cemetery and burial culture and the resulting changing demands of museum visitors on the mediation work in our institution, it became urgently necessary to update the permanent exhibition of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture. For this purpose, a temporary "Scientific Advisory Board for the New Concept of the Permanent Exhibition of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture" was founded for the first time in 2017.
29th November 2019
The Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, which opened in 1992, receives 50 percent of the investment costs (total costs 14 million euros) from federal funds, which are necessary for the new concept of the permanent exhibition, energy-saving renovation and expansion of the functional areas. The funds are provided from the budget of the Commissioner for Culture and Media, Minister of State Prof. Monika Grütters.
Prof. Monika Grütters: "The Museum for Sepulchral Culture lives from its unusual issue. It has thus developed into an extraordinary place of culture and remembrance and impressively proves that the themes of dying, death, mourning and burial are an integral part of our culture. With this elementary topic, the museum appeals to all of us without distinction. When it comes to the great question of the beginning and end of life, to thoughtfulness, contemplation and transcendence, it always touches its visitors deeply. Because of the importance of this theme, the Swiss Confederation is happy to participate in the renovation of the museum."
The Museum for Sepulchral Culture has existed as a cultural institution of national importance since 1992 and was affiliated to the Central Institute for Sepulchral Culture, which was founded in 1979. The museum focuses on the topic of funeral culture and illustrates continuities and breaks in dealing with dying, death, burial, mourning and remembrance. Architecturally, the museum consists of the historical existing building – the former shed of the Henschel villas (1903/1904) – and the adjoining new museum building, which combines both units into a significant ensemble in terms of urban development.
After almost three decades of operation, this unique museum needs a new concept for its permanent exhibition that reflects the current state of social discourse and scientific research. In addition, a fundamental renovation is required, and in particular an elementary improvement of the air conditioning and ventilation technology to meet the energy and conservation requirements of contemporary museum operations.
Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann: "The fact that our museum is now receiving financial support for the urgently needed updates to the permanent exhibition and the renovation and extension work is a great fortune and a credit to the whole team. In many years of creative and constant work, the Museum for Sepulchral Culture has established itself as a unique institution nationwide. We work for society by bringing the themes of dying, death, burial and mourning into people's consciousness in a variety of ways."
The new conception of the content conveys the multifaceted relationship between man and death. This is illustrated in particular against the background of demographic development and migration movements by current multicultural, ethical, sociological, medical, socio-psychological, theological and scientific aspects in dealing with dying and death.
Kassel's SPD member of the Bundestag Timon Gremmels and Kassel's Lord Mayor Christian Geselle did not miss the opportunity to attend the opening evening of the exhibition "LAMENTO. Trauer und Tränen" (15.11.2019) to share with the assembled audience their great joy about the approval of federal funding. In addition, budget funds have already been promised by the City of Kassel. Susanne Völker, head of the Department of Culture, emphasized: "The Museum for Sepulchral Culture occupies a special position in the German museum landscape. With its focus on content, the museum touches on central aspects of human existence, which are often given little space in our modern society. Since its foundation 27 years ago, the museum has continually opened up innovative, informative and life-affirming perspectives through a wide range of exhibitions and events. I am pleased that the Museum of Sepulchral Culture is now being given a perspective for modernization and contemporary development".
Negotiations are currently taking place with the museum's institutional sponsor, the State of Hesse, in order to have planning security soon. Eva Kühne-Hörmann, Hesse's Minister of Justice and Kassel CDU chairwoman, said that the museum is, in addition to the documenta, "another cultural institution unique in Germany", which has its headquarters in Kassel. From 2017 to 2018, the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD) and the Association of German Dioceses (VDD) had provided financial support for the development of the "Vision for the Future" which is now available. The Museum for Sepulchral Culture hopes to receive further support from the two Christian churches in the area of the costs of setting up the updated permanent exhibition, as well as from a wide range of sponsors and donors, in order to be able to raise the necessary own contribution.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.
Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur
Museum für Sepulkralkultur
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0