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Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument)

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General information

Museum for Sepulchral Culture

Press information short

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture has existed as a cultural institution of national importance since 1992 and is the only institution in the world that is committed exclusively to cultural and scientific standards and deals with death in all its facets. The term "sepulchral culture" is derived from the Latin "sepulcrum" and means grave, burial place. The term covers all manifestations that have developed in connection with dying, death, burial, mourning and commemoration: burial and mourning rites and customs, but also artistic views of dying and death. Dying, burial, mourning and commemoration have been subject to major changes in practice and their public perception for two decades. The museum offers special opportunities to explore, contextualise and communicate these processes.


Press information long

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture has existed as a cultural institution of national importance since 1992 and is the only institution in the world that is committed exclusively to cultural and scientific standards and deals with death in all its facets. The term "sepulchral culture" is derived from the Latin "sepulcrum" and means grave, burial place. The term covers all manifestations that have developed in connection with dying, death, burial, mourning and commemoration: burial and mourning rites and customs, but also artistic views of dying and death.

Dying, burial, mourning and commemoration have been subject to major changes in practice and their public perception for two decades. The museum offers special opportunities to explore, contextualise and communicate these processes.

The permanent exhibition presents numerous exhibits from the Christian Occidental sepulchral culture: last shirts, reapers, hourglasses, medieval funeral dances, artistically painted coffins and skulls to mourning jewellery and hearse. They are predominantly part of everyday and utility culture and document the strategies of people in dealing with finiteness.

In addition, the museum provides exemplary insights into the burial rites of various religions and cultures in Germany. The topic of burials of migrants in German cemeteries has become increasingly important in recent years, and this is also reflected in the burial culture. They all have their own burial forms and rituals.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal

Press Information

Since its foundation in 1954, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) has been the leading cultural institution in the field of cemetery and funeral culture in Germany. With more than 65 years of experience and a membership structure that includes a wide range of professions, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft has become a unique international network with outstanding expertise.

The members of the association are active in research and science, garden and landscape planning, grave and tomb design, funeral services, cemetery administration, social services and palliative and hospice work. Therefore, the working group is a competent partner in all questions of cemetery, funeral and mourning culture.

The Study Group sees itself as a forum for the discussion of current developments and as a platform for the presentation of future-oriented projects. It is committed to the preservation and protection of traditional forms of cemetery and funeral culture, where they are integrated into social life as a component of cultural identity. The working group focuses on the professional groups that are confronted with dying, death, mourning and remembrance in their daily work. For people from these occupational groups, the Study Group offers counselling and further training in various formats.

These include advice on the planning and design of cemeteries, the design of gravestones and questions of cemetery law. The seminars and advanced training courses include, for example, offers for people from the helping professions, on the practice of burial and a customer-oriented approach to relatives, on the design of cemeteries and graves and on the conception of cemetery tours. Extensive conferences on topics from the field of cemetery and burial culture take place regularly.

The members of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. are united by their interest in the manifold aspects of sepulchral culture. Motivation for a membership in the association is, for example, the commitment to the preservation and care of cultural-historical evidence of the sepulchral culture, the work on new design concepts or the intention to integrate the cultural values of the association into the professional field of activity as well as scientific research.

Central Institute for Sepulchral Culture

Press Information

The Central Institute for Sepulchral Culture conducts basic research through scientific studies of historical cemeteries, grave signs, event-related and personal monuments, mourning and burial customs, developments in dealing with dying and death as well as research into development trends. With the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, the Central Institute is today a recognised research centre in the German museum landscape and is also regularly involved in scientific national and international conferences. Scientific conferences are regularly held with various cooperation partners, e.g. universities.

It is the editor of the Kasseler Studien zur Sepulkralkultur (Kassel Studies on Sepulchral Culture) (currently 19 volumes) and the Kasseler Manuskripte zur Sepulkralkultur (Kassel manuscripts on Sepulchral Culture), the large encyclopaedia on burial and cemetery culture (four volumes to date) and is responsible for the publication of the magazine Zeitschrift für Sepulkralkultur /Friedhof und Denkmal (Magazine for Sepulchral Culture/ Cemetery and Monument). The Central Institute is also responsible for a scientific library, a photo and music archive.

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© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv | Foto: Maja Wirkus

Special exhibitions

Suizid – Let's talk about it!

Duration: 10. September 2021 – 27. February 2022

Press Release

Exhibition Opening: 10 September 2021
Symposium: 28 January 2022, Gießhaus, University of Kassel

Press Conference: 8 September 2021, 11:00  


Unique in Germany, the exhibition at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel in September 2021 is dedicated to a difficult and challenging topic: suicide and how it is dealt with. The project is curated by Dr. Dirk Pörschmann, Director of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, and Tatjana Ahle, together with the suicidologist Prof. Dr. Reinhard Lindner, Director of the Institute of Social Work at the University of Kassel.

The topic of suicide is taboo in society today. Around ten thousand people take their own life in Germany each year, mostly when faced with a distressing psychological, social or physical crisis. The silence surrounding their death has a toxic effect. Public discussion of suicide, its causes and consequences, is therefore a vital matter of concern to every one of us. At the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, an institution dedicated since 1992 to the related issues of dying, death, grief and commemoration, suicide is the topic of a special exhibition. “Suicide – Let’s talk about it!” has been devised and produced in cooperation with the University of Kassel and various German and international partners in the fields of art, culture and science. Exhibits ranging from contemporary art to artefacts illustrative of social and cultural history serve as a palpable frame of reference, so enabling visitors to gain insight into phenomena linked with suicide and suicidality. Drawing on the voices of persons affected, epidemiological data, and relevant research in the humanities and human sciences, the Museum endeavours with this project to find a new language for addressing suicide and suicidal behaviours, as well as the attendant experiences of pain, grief, and silence, but also humour. PUBLICATION A compilation of highly diverse in-depth treatments of individual aspects of the topic in the form of interviews, essays and critical works of art accompanies the exhibition and the programme of events. The comprehensive publication offers a complementary platform for the latest research findings as well as for artistic explorations that broaden the scope of associative approaches to the topic.   

On 28 January 2022, in the Gießhaus at the University of Kassel, the Opening Symposium brings the internationally renowned scholars Annette Erlangsen, PhD (DK), MD Mark J. Goldblatt (USA) and Prof. em. Dr. Phil. Thomas Macho (AT) together with artists and others who deal with suicide in their everyday (professional) lives. Under the motto “Let's talk about it!” and in the light of intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives, the public is invited to take part in a frank discussion.


A wide-ranging programme of events is planned for the duration of the exhibition. For six months, the Museum will be an open stage for cultural actors and activists as well as for ongoing debate of philosophical, legal, intercultural, religious or scientific issues relating to suicide.

An interdisciplinary advisory panel of experts has accompanied the project since 2019.  In order to reach broad sectors of society, cooperation was sought with cultural and research institutions in Germany, Austria, and New Zealand, among others with the International Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften / Kunstuniversität Linz in Vienna, Depot Artspace, New Zealand, the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel and the Caricatura, Galerie für Komische Kunst Kassel. Scientific director of the project since its inception is the leading suicidologist and director of Germany’s nationwide suicide prevention programme, NaSPro, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Lindner, of the Institute for Social Work at the University of Kassel.

Project funding has been generously provided by the foundations Hessische Kulturstiftung, FUNUS Stiftung, Heidehof Stiftung GmbH, AHORN Gruppe, and Stiftung Deutsche Bestattungskultur, as well as by Westermann Gerüstbau, and Service Learning of the University of Kassel.

The effective PR and media strategies of our cooperation partners in the fields of suicidology, cultural sciences, visual arts, and arts education and outreach has enabled the project to extend its reach into broader society, above and beyond the museum context, and thus to fulfil its goal of raising the general public’s awareness and understanding of suicide.

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1. Akachukwu Chukwuemeka Benjamin (NGA)
Forms from My Sky no. 60 ,The Depressed’ (2018)
Acryl und Küperfarbstoff auf Leinwand
© Akachukwu Chukwuemeka Benjamin

2. Bjørn Melhus (DE)
16 mm Film, übertragen auf Video, 39:02 min
© Bjørn Melhus | VG Bild-Kunst Bonn

3. Donna J. Wan (USA)
Golden Gate Bridge #6 (2013)
© Donna J. Wan

4. Edgar Martins (PRT)
Suicide Letters
Letter of Departure Written on Architectural Plans (2016)
© Edgar Martins | Courtesy Purdy Hicks Gallery & Galeria Filomena Soares

5. Georg Kolbe (DE)
Totentanz (1933)
Foto: Markus Hilbich
© Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin

6. Unbekannt (FR)
L‘inconnue de la Seine (ca. 1920)
Totenmaske aus Porzellan
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv

7. Jaan Toomik (EST)
Oleg (2010)
Spielfilm, 4:44 min
© Jaan Toomik | Courtesy the Artist and Temnikova & Kasela, Tallinn

herman de vries – vergehen

Duration: 19. June – 01. August 2021
Preview: Thursday, 17. June  2021, um 11 am
Opening: Friday, 18. June 2021, 6 pm

Press Release

Der Künstler ist anwesend. Im Schaffen des international renommierten Künstlers herman de vries (geboren 1931 im holländischen Alkmaar) stehen der Zufall, der Wandel und die permanente Veränderung allen Seins im Zentrum. Seit den 1950erJahren experimentiert er mit Zeichnungen, der Malerei, mit Installationen, Publikationen und immer stärker mit natürlichen Materialien, deren Vergänglichkeit er ausstellt. "chance and change" (Zufall und Veränderung) sieht herman de vries als den Rahmen seines Lebens, aus dem er niemals heraustreten kann. Seit den 1960er-Jahren hat er viele und lange Reisen unternommen. Neben der Offenheit zur weiten Welt hin, suchte de vries auch die Intimität der Natur, um dort sein Arbeitsmaterial wie auch seine künstlerischen Methoden zu entdecken. Sein Atelier ist der Steigerwald, wo er bereits seit fünf Jahrzehnten lebt. Etwas vergeht: eine Blume, ein Leben, die Zeit. Es ist das aktive Moment des Vergehens, das uns herman de vries in seinen Werken offenbart. Mit jedem Schritt, mit jedem Herzschlag, mit jeder Blüte vergeht das Leben in uns und um uns. Es wandelt sich darin, verwandelt seine Gestalt doch nie sein Wesen. Leben ist Sterben ist Leben. In einem Gedicht erfasst de vries seine Freude über die Lebendigkeit im Angesicht der Vergänglichkeit. „umarmt von der welt werde ich sterben“. Welt ist Teil von uns und wir von ihr. Im Tanz als Ausdruck der Freude vergehen wir. Welch tröstlich Bild vom Unausweichlichen.

(Dirk Pörschmann)

Zur Ausstellung erscheint ein Künstlerbuch.


1931 herman de vries wird in Alkmaar in den Niederlanden geboren.
1949−1953 Er besucht die Gartenbauschule Hoorn und ist anschließend für ein Jahr als Landarbeiter in Frankreich tätig, später arbeitet er beim niederländischen Pflanzenschutztdienst in Wangeningen.
1953−1961 Seine künstlerische Tätigkeit beginnt er mit informellen Zeichnungen und monochromen Bildern. In seinem frühen künstlerischen Schaffen steht er der internationalen ZERO-Bewegung nahe.
1961−1964 Publikation mehrerer Ausgaben von 0=nul und anschließend der Zeitschrift revue integration (1965−1972), darin finden sich u.a. Beiträge von Lucia Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Otto Piene oder Ad Reinhardt. Es folgen zahlreiche Veröffentlichungen in Form von Zeitschriften, Textsammlungen, Künstlerbücher und Editionen. Bis 1968 ist de vries Mitarbeiter am Institut für angewandte Biologische Forschung in der Natur in Arnhem.
1962 Erste random objectifications sowie the music of sound entstehen. de vries nimmt an der Ausstellung nul am Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam teil.
1965 de vries beginnt mit Sprache zu experimentieren.
1967 Reisen nach Osteuropa und in die Türkei
1969 Der Künstler bereist Algerien, die Sahara, Tunesien und die Türkei
1970 Nach Reisen in die Türkei, in den Iran, nach Afghanistan, Indien und auf die Seychellen lässt er sich im fränkischen Eschenau am Rande des Steigerwalds nieder.
1972 de vries experimentiert mit Film und Fotografie. Der Text my poetry is the world entsteht, der gleich einem Manifest des Künstlers zu lesen ist und mittlerweile in 82 Sprachen und Dialekte übersetzt wurde.
1973 Reisen nach Marrokko, Rio de Oro, Mauretanien und Senegal
1974 Reisen nach Nepal, Indien, Thailand und Laos. Die eschenau summer &  temporary travelling press publications entstehen erstmalig. Dabei handelt es sich um kleine Künstlerbücher, die von de vries und anderen Autor*innen und Künstler*innen gestaltet werden, bspw. James Lee Byars, Dieter Roth, Eugen Gomringer oder Karin Sander.
1978 Beginn der Sammlung von Erdproben und Erstellung der Erdausreibungen (ab 1983). Mittlerweile umfasst das Archiv, das aus eigens gesammelten und dem Künstler zugetragenen Erdproben besteht, ca. 9000 Erdproben. Ein Großteil des erdmuseums befindet sich heute im Musée Gassendi im französischen Digne-les-Bains.
1979 Es entsteht die Arbeit 16 dem² − ein essay.
1980 Eine Retrospektive am Groninger Museum präsentiert das Werk von de vries.
1981−1984 Längerer Aufenthalt in Los Acevinos, La Gomera, Reisen nach Marrokko und Senegal.
1991 de vries begründet zusammen mit Wolfgang Bauer die Zeitschrift integration−zeitschrift für geistbewegende pflanzen und kultur.
1997 Nach der ersten Version in Stuttgart (1993) entsteht in Münster ein weiteres sanctuarium im Rahmen der Skulptur Projekte.
1998 de vries erhält für sein Gesamtwerk die Auszeichnung der Netherlands Foundation for Fine Arts, Design und Architecture.
2003−2005 Es entstehen spuren im Steigerwald, goldene Zeichen und Schriften in der Natur.
2014−2015 Teilnahme an der großen ZERO-Retrospektive im Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, die auch im Berliner Gropius Bau gezeigt wird und im Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Bei der Biennale von Venedig im Jahr 2015 bespielt de vries den von Cees de Boer und Colin Huizing kuratierten holländischen Pavillion mit der Ausstellung to be all ways to be.
2019 herman de vries erhält den Gerhard-Altenbourg-Preis    

Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf:

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1. collection of dead wood for the exhibition
in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, summer 2021 
Photo: Julia Henfling (April 2021)
© herman de vries

2. Flyer
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel

3. herman de vries in his studio, 2021
Photo: Katharina Winterhalter
© herman de vries


Eine Serie von Daniel Tchetchik



Ein Fotoprojekt von Edith Held

Zeitraum: 19. Juni – 1. August 2021
Pressevorbesichtigung: 17. Juni 2021 nach Voranmeldung
Eröffnung: 18. Juni 2021, um 20.00 Uhr
Ein Grußwort spricht Bischöfin Dr. Beate Hofmann
Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck

Die beiden Fotoausstellungen DARK WATER und NEUE WELT mussten für den Zeitraum April –Juni 2020 wegen des deutschlandweiten Lockdowns abgesagt werden. Aber Menschen, die vor Krieg, Folter, Hunger und Elend flüchten, lassen sich auch nicht von einer Pandemie stoppen. Viele schon seit Jahren auf der Flucht. Das Thema bleibt hochbrisant und wurde wegen der Pandemieberichterstattung viel zu oft in den Hintergrund gedrängt.

Mit den künstlerischen Arbeiten von Edith Held und Daniel Tchetchik präsentiert
das Museum für Sepulkralkultur zwei sehr unterschiedliche Auseinandersetzungen
im Kontext von Vertreibung, Tod und Ankommen thematisieren.


Eine Serie von Daniel Tchetchik

Wie viele Menschen bei der gefährlichen Flucht nach Europa ums Leben kommen, weiß niemand. Vor allem das Mittelmeer ist zum Grab für abertausende, oft namenlose Opfer geworden. Der israelische Fotograf Daniel Tchetchik reiste entlang der Küsten Spaniens, Italiens und Griechenlands und blickte vom vermeintlich sicheren Hafen Europa auf das Mittelmeer. Ein Jahr lang hat er es von dort aus fotografiert.
Begleitet von Erfahrungen und Geschichten der Menschen, die sich jetzt – nach ihrer gelungenen Flucht – vor dem Meer fürchten, erzählt Daniel Tchetchik eine Geschichte, die über die Dokumentation der Flüchtlingskrise hinausgeht. Entstanden ist die Serie Dark Waters, in der er in metaphorischen Bildern den Blick auf die unheilvolle Zeugenschaft des Mittelmeers richtet.
Die überwiegend schwarz/weiss gehaltenen Fotos haben weder Titel noch geben sie weiterführende Informationen preis. Die Betrachterin/der Betrachter erfährt nichts über das Wo und das Wann. Die Aufnahmen sind überwiegend in der Dämmerung aufgenommen und lassen uns eindringlich die Unerbittlichkeit des Meeres und seine zerstörerische Naturgewalt spüren. Sie zeigen uns auch, wie weit der Horizont ist, der uns voneinander trennt, uns aber auch Möglichkeiten eröffnet, Grenzen zu überschreiten und Neues zu wagen.

Die Serie ist ein Porträt des Mittelmeers in der Gegenwart – Sinnbild sowohl für Hoffnung als auch Verzweiflung.

Die Ausstellung wurde erstmals im November 2019 im Almacen Cultural Center in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel, statt

Daniel Tchetchik ist Fotograf und Foto-Blogger bei der israelischen Tageszeitung Haaretz. Er teilt seine Zeit zwischen dokumentarischen und persönlichen Projekten auf. Seine Bilder wurden unter anderem auf den Plattformen des New Yorker, der Süddeutschen Zeitung, VICE und BURN Magazine veröffentlicht. Er war zweimal für den Prix Pictet nominiert.

Dark Waters ist als Fotoband im Kehrer Verlag 2019 mit 9 Farb- und 53 Duplexabbildungen und Texten von Jason Straziuso, Sprecher des Internationalen Komitees, vom Roten Kreuz, dem israelischen Filmemacher Ari Folmann und der Direktorin des Zentrums für zeitgenössische Kunst in Tel Aviv, Nicola Trezzi, erschienen. Preis 39.90 Euro


Ein Fotoprojekt von Edith Held

Die Erfahrungen von Kindern nehmen innerhalb der Auseinandersetzung mit Fluchtursachen und -gefahren eine besondere Rolle ein. Über zwei Jahre hat die Fotografin Edith Held mehr als 100 geflüchtete Kinder in Berliner Übergangsheimen besucht, porträtiert und interviewt.

„Wer erlebt aktuelle Geschichte auf unbefangene Art intensiv? Wer erzählt ehrlich und ist in seiner Schilderung authentisch? Wie kann anschaulicher beschrieben werden, was gerade in der Welt geschieht, als durch Kinder?“
(Aus: Vorwort des Bildbandes NEUE WELT)

Die Porträtaufnahmen werden begleitet von kurzen, eindrücklichen Aussagen der Porträtierten. Ihre Geschichten handeln von Wünschen und Träumen, von Krieg und Zerstörung, von Heimat und Flucht, vom Leben in Berlins Flüchtlingsheimen und ihren Hoffnungen auf ein besseres Leben. NEUE WELT ist eine eindrückliche Momentaufnahme junger Menschen zwischen sich öffnenden neuen Welten und denen, die sie verlassen mussten.

Das Fotoprojekt NEUE WELT wurde in Zusammenarbeit mit Gunter Haedke, Initiator der galerie auf zeit, Berlin, von der Fotografin Edith Held realisiert und erstmals 2016 in Berlin gezeigt. In dem gleichnamigen Bildband NEUE WELT sind alle 105 Bilder und Geschichten enthalten.

Preis: 25.00 Euro

Edtih Held begann in den 1970er Jahren als Mode- und Werbefotografin. Ihre Bilder wurden u. a. im i-D Magazin, Cosmopolitan, Elle und Vogue abgedruckt. Nach Stationen in Paris und Wien lebt Edith Held heute in Berlin. Neben ihren kommerziellen Arbeiten realisiert sie freie konzeptionelle Fotoprojekte.

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1. , 2. & 3.  untitled
from the series „Dark Waters“, 2019
© Daniel Tchetchik

4.   "Zahra Rasouli"
from the photo project "Neue Welt"
© Edith Held

5.   "Fais und Sultan"
from the photo project "Neue Welt"
© Edith Held

Memento – In The Force Field of Memories

Duration:  Extended until 30 May

Press Release

Concept: Director Dr. Dirk Pörschmann / Ella Ziegler, artist

After the exhibition LAMENTO - Grief and Tears at the Museum of Sepulchral Culture was dedicated to the phenomenon of crying and the immediate affects and emotions triggered by the death of a close person, the subsequent exhibition MEMENTO - In the Force Field of Memories deals with the most diverse forms of individual remembrance and commemoration of the deceased.

"Always remember to forget me" is written on a harmonious gravestone by Timm Ulrichs (1969) in the form of an open book. With this paradox, the visitors are confronted at the beginning at the MEMENTO exhibition.

A further eleven artistic works (photography, video/film, sculpture, installation, graphics and performance), which deal with the themes of individual remembrance and commemoration, are presented in the exhibition and cultural-historical testimonies to the culture of mourning and remembrance from the collection of the Museum of Sepulchral Culture placed on the side:

Artists: Christian Boltanski (F) | Karolin Bräg (D) | Sofia Hultén (SE) | Andrew Kotting (GB) | Karsten Krause (D) | Lucy Powell (GB) | Jaan Toomik (ES) | Tina Ruisinger (CH) | Catrine Val (D) | Lorenz Widmaier (D) | Dorothee von Windheim (D) | Timm Ulrichs (D)

Projects: Family audio book, Judith Grümmer (D) / Dear Photograph, Taylor Jones (CA) / Rest in Vinyl / Andvinyly, Jason Leach (GB) / Memorabilia, Museum für Sepulkralkultur

The way in which people deal with the loss of loved ones and their emotional distress is determined not only by cultural traditions, ideological and social values or collective historical awareness, but also by individual traits and life situations. Memories are subject to constant change - depending on the situation and phase of life - which includes their meanings and also their meaning. Many people therefore seek a personal language and form of visualising the past by transforming memories into sensual, tangible actions or by carefully preserving personal legacies as plastic carriers of memory.
Solemnly, sadly, lamenting and lamenting, loudly and extrovertedly, dancing, silently or in the form of ritual actions, relatives and friends* remember and commemorate their deceased and reactivate the past in the present by means of remembering. 

Fine arts, literature and music offer the wonderful opportunity to transform memories into aesthetic formats through their works. On the one hand, this practice is often memory work itself, and on the other hand it makes the grieving process in the work comprehensible. And they can motivate people to develop their own personal memorial forms.

The dialogues between the international works of art on display and the cultural-historical objects from the museum's collection thus unfold an exciting reference space. In addition to the artistic works and the historical testimonies, selected virtual memory formats such as remembrance videos on the net and interactive websites that initiate and accompany individual memory processes will be presented. We also provide information about the pilot study "Family audio book" of the University Hospital Bonn, which gives seriously ill parents the opportunity to record their very personal life story for children and relatives in a recording studio with a radio journalist.   

The desire to visit certain places one last time before death is followed by the work of artist Andrew Kotting (born 1959, Kent/GB). With two larger-than-life, inflatable sculptures depicting his father and grandfather, he travelled to the places where his deceased relatives lived, loved, worked or longed for.
In his short film „You and Me“ (2009), Karsten Krause (born 1980, Freiburg i. Br.) has cut out and edited together from Super 8 shots of his grandfather the scenes in which the grandmother approaches the camera and thus her husband. The result is a scenographic kaleidoscope of approach, which at the same time makes the perceived distance to the deceased grandmother all the greater.
Contemporary witnesses such as texts, pictures, sound recordings, objects or relics convey and embody the past and are identity-forming components of a work of remembrance and commemoration whose aesthetic or cognitive nature supports the conscious recollection of people and events.
Tina Ruisinger (b. 1969, Stuttgart) has thus spent ten years photographing everything that people leave behind when they die. In doing so, she concentrated not only on death, but also on the lives of the bereaved.

With the artistic work "Liminal Animal" (2008), British artist Lucy Powell (born 1972, Münster) commemorates her deceased tomcat Eugene, who lost quite a few whiskers in her flat during his life. She applies them to black velvet and presents them in the form of a flower like a devotional object.
Mourners are also increasingly seeking comfort by expressing their loss experiences and feelings through grief forums or their own blogs on the Internet
share with fellow sufferers or seek anonymous counselling; always hoping to get over the loss they have experienced and the burden of grief. The closeness, comfort and trust felt and exchanged through virtual contact with strangers whose origin is unknown seems to unite mourners across cultures, religions and ideologies despite their anonymity. Electronic messages can be left on the various virtual forums - a virtual variant of the pebbles with which visitors to Jewish cemeteries pay their respects to the dead. Cultural scientist Lorenz Widmaier, who researches and writes on virtual forms of remembrance, dedicates various works to this extensive topic in the exhibition.

In the force field of memories, experiences, feelings, thoughts and dead people enter our consciousness, and it is up to our faith, our culture and our being, in which form we encounter these memories and how we want to live with them. In many cultures the presence of the dead was and is ritually manifested in everyday life and actions. Ancestors are venerated, given offerings and provided with food so that they remain well-disposed towards the living.
Today, these customs are often mixed or replaced with individual rituals. Moreover, with the entry into modernity, the handling of the dead was strictly regulated from a pragmatic and hygienic point of view, from which religious practices retreated.

The French artist Christian Boltanski (born 1944, Paris), who throughout his life dealt with the themes of life, death and memory, literally makes the spirits of the dead dance in his shadow theatre Théâtre D'ombres. "For decades he has (...) questioned the connection between life and death - the disappearance of the individual and the desperate efforts of people against forgetting and being forgotten. (Wolfsburg Art Museum)

All the exhibits presented in the exhibition are personal attempts and forms of remembrance work that tell stories of deceased people through the voices of the bereaved.

The exhibition is supported by




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Alle Bilder sind grundsätzlich mit der jeweiligen Bildlegende darzustellen und dürfen nur im Zusammenhang mit der Ausstellung MEMENTO – Im Kraftfeld der Erinnerungen verwendet werden. Die Bilder dürfen 6 Wochen vor, während und 4 Wochen nach der Ausstellung genutzt werden oder nach Rücksprache.

(1) IN THE WAKE OF A DEADAD, Andrew Kotting, 2006, Filmstill
Foto: Leila Badblood

(2) Kranzkasten, um 1900, Museum für Sepulkralkultur
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv. Foto: Frank Hellwig

(3) Gedenkbild, 1887, Museum für Sepulkralkultur
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv. Foto: Frank Hellwig

(4) Grabtafel „Denken Sie immer daran, mich zu vergessen!
Timm Ulrichs. Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv. Foto: Frank Hellwig

(5) LIMINAL ANIMAL, Lucy Powell, 2008
Foto: Lucy Powell

(6) Tina Ruisinger, Traces, Fotografie, 2017
Foto: Tina Ruisinger

(7) Karl Julius Zinnert, Liegebüste einer Unbekannten, 1855
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv. Foto: Frank Hellwig

Das Letzte ( The Last)

Juliane Uhl | Susan Donath

Extended until 30. May 2021

Press Release

Donath and Uhl address death in its multidimensionality and thus represent a new generation in dealing with death. The end of life is not only an administrative act or a ritual place of the old and the new, but also the breaking point between history and the present through which red threads can be spun. In the contemplation of life and existence up to the last lies the capacity for retrospective knowledge that allows enlightened glimpses into the future. Death in its capacity as an eye-opener, as a moment of clarity, becomes the most honest moment of existence in THE LAST.

Donath and Uhl unite the most diverse professional and also personal perspectives, which make their contemplations of death a space for interpretation for society as a whole.

Juliane Uhl has worked in a crematorium for seven years and is editor-in-chief of the magazine DRUNTER&DRÜBER. She organises DeathSlams and develops event concepts that bring death into society as a topic suitable for the masses. Uhl has been writing short texts and poems since her early youth. In 2015 she published her book Drei Liter Tod - Mein Leben im Krematorium. She offers herself to readers as an icebreaker for a topic that tends to remain unspoken or is elevated by experts to a task for professionals. Since May 2020, she has also been writing the column #lauterdenken on the website of Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk.
Juliane Uhl imagines death and looks at life from there. She gives lectures and readings, moderates events, publishes on death and freedom and develops artistic positions with words. Her works are questionings of the seemingly fixed, her way of thinking the constant doubt. Continuing her examination of death, Uhl dedicated her year on 1.1.2020 to freedom, which can only be real at all through the acceptance of death and has been in question since the Corona crisis.

Susan Donath's works reflect different aspects of the culture of mourning and the dead: a German-Czech grave site, an unburied urn with Stasi files, a parked memorial stone, grave inscriptions made of iron beads and death crowns. The individual works are often preceded by research into a practice, tradition, which then often flows into an artistic work in a different constellation or combination. Susan Donath is currently working on a "model project" in the Bílina area, Czech Republic, and has developed an artistic concept for destroyed grave images. Her on-site focus is on the systematic destruction of Jewish and German cemeteries after 1945 and the question of what to do with the sites in the future.

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All images must always be presented with the respective caption and may only be used in connection with the exhibition DAS LETZTE (The Last). The images may be used 6 weeks before, during and 4 weeks after the exhibition or after consultation.

(1) Susan Donath: Totenkrone für A.
Version Anemone
2013-2018, Rocailles auf Draht, 21 x 21 x 4 cm

(2) Was bleibt
2018, Farbfotografie auf Alu-Dibond, 100 x 100 cm
gerahmt Aluminiumprofil, anthrazit, 103 x 103 cm

(3) Susan Donath: Urne (work in progress)
2009, keine Angaben, 25 x 18 x 18 cm

Marco Di Carlo – Zernetzung

Duration: 12. June 2020 – 6. September 2020

Press Release

In everything our world is networked. We live on a planet and experience how fruitful and at the same time unpredictable global exchange is. Flora and fauna, water, air, oceans, climate and of course people and their goods circulate; and this – as has been the case for centuries – is also accompanied by pathogens. Structures of all kinds form and network and are in permanent contact. Parallel to this, processes of decomposition are constantly taking place, for life is change and a constant coexistence of beginning and end.

The sculptor Marco Di Carlo (born 1980) will fill the Museum for Sepulchral Culture with structures made of cables and objects as part of the final exhibition of his Georg Meistermann Fellowship. He incorporates organic material from found objects into his work and arranges his installations as a symbolic coexistence of interpenetrating nature, technology and culture. Wood, bones or furs regain moments of their vitality in a fantastic way through their integration into a fabric of cables and electronic components. Di Carlo's works play with the ambivalence of our existence. We perceive death and life as different states, but from an evolutionary perspective these two categories so familiar to us make little sense, because so-called life consists simultaneously of countless processes of networking and decomposition of molecules. Human beings are part of this and do the same with these processes. He uses his abilities as a homo faber, as a creating and therein inventing living being, but the arrogance of the technically creating leads him again and again to the limits of the possible. In the realization of human limitations towards nature and the cosmos there is the chance of humility towards our existence, which can only be borne in a holistic understanding of the world. And so we too network and disintegrate in the hope of mental, aesthetic or technical developments. These hopefully do not only lead us to the edge of exhaustion, but in the acceptance of our finiteness let us also understand and celebrate life in its essence. We are finite because we live, and we create because the awareness of our finiteness enables us to do so.

The exhibition is supported by Cusanuswerk, Verein Ausstellungshaus für christliche Kunst e. V., Städtische Werke, Fischer and Westermann Gerüstbau.

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Copyright and photo: Marco Di Carlo

Lamento – Mourning and Tears

15. November 2019 – 15. March 2020

Press release short

An exhibition with interdisciplinary accompanying program at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, Kassel

In the interdisciplinary and multimedia exhibition LAMENTO, the Museum of Sepulchral Culture dedicates itself to the collective and individual experience of grief, loss and remembrance through a selection of international contemporary artworks, a film program, readings, a panel discussion, concerts and an intervention in public space. In the context of the museum's collection, interventions as well as formal and content-related references are created.


Press release long

An exhibition with interdisciplinary accompanying program at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, Kassel

The history of humanity is marked by transformation processes and traumatic experiences of loss. Natural disasters, wars, accidents, flight, illness, epidemics and old age confront mankind with its finiteness, with death. Constant privations challenge humanity to cope with and accept changes and losses by practicing and living different cultural forms of mourning, remembrance and commemoration for generations. Religious and ideological traditions, private emotionality and social prestige are driving forces that continually give new forms of expression to the sepulchral culture. In this triad, a normative model of ceremonial farewell and commemoration rituals developed over the centuries, which continues to have an effect into the 21st century, albeit in a reduced and transformed form, and which was significantly influenced by bureaucratic regulation and technical-hygienic rationality in dealing with the corpse. Historically, the culture of mourning and remembrance following the experience of loss is in a state of constant change, reflecting and representing contemporary historical, social, political and ideological phenomena.

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture is dedicated to the collective and individual experience of mourning, loss and remembrance in the interdisciplinary and multimedia exhibition series LAMENTO, with a selection of international contemporary artworks, a film programme, readings, a panel discussion, concerts and interventions in public space.

The collection of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture houses written and pictorial testimonies that make mourning culture comprehensible and objects that accompany sepulchral rituals and ceremonies. These historical sources of the museum form the cultural and historical reference room for the artistic works. On the one hand, already existing works are specifically selected for the exhibition and related to objects in the collection, and on the other hand, the invited artists* have the opportunity to research in the context of the museum's collection, to refer to specific pieces of the collection and to develop new works in correspondence with historical artefacts.

In the multimedia exhibition series LAMENTO, graphic works, photographs, videos, sculptures, conceptual works and interventions on advertising spaces in public space will address the atmospheric facets of mourning, remembering and commemoration. The exhibitions will be accompanied by a publication that will give visitors access to the works and themes of the exhibition.

The curatorial team of the exhibition is the art historian and director of the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, Dr. Dirk Pörschmann, the artist Ella Ziegler, the folklorist Dr. Ulrike Neurath and the art educator Gerold Eppler M.A.

Dr. Dirk Pörschmann, director and curator, Museum for Sepulchral Culture

The exhibition is supported by the Hessische Kulturstiftung, the Stiftung Deutsche Bestattungskultur and the Kasseler Sparkasse.


The following artistic positions are presented in the exhibition LAMENTO I – Mourning and Tears in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture:

Bas Jan Ader (NL) / I'am to sad to tell you, 1971 (film projection, postcard) Mathilde ter Heijne (NL) / Lament, Song for Transitions, 2014 (video) Ella Ziegler (DE) / Stone from Tears of a Deer, 2018 (video) Nina Jansen (DE) / Untitled (embroidered handkerchief) (object) Dieter Roth (CH) / Das Tränenmeer (ads in daily newspaper) Nancy Borowick (US) / The Family Imprint

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1. Nancy Borowick, „The embrace“,
from „The Family Imprint“, 2017
© Nancy Borowick

2.   Shawl: "Freud- und Leidtuch", Mitte 19.Jh.
Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel
Volkskundesammlung, photo: Mirja Loewe

3.  Exhibition view: © photo Maja Wirkus. Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv

background: Video work by Bas Jan Ader „I’m too sad to tell you“, Bas Jan Ader © The Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. All rights reserved

front: Trauertrachten (mourning dresses), Lindhorst, 19 Jh.

4.   Exhibition view: © photo Maja Wirkus. Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv

background: Video work by Mathilde ter Heijne „Lament, Song for Transitions, 2010
front: „Tränenkrüglein“, Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel Volkskundesammlung

5.   Urs Lüthi, „Lüthi weint auch für sie“
© Urs Lüthi, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

6.   Nina Jansen, Ohne Titel, 2002
© Nina Jansen, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

7.   Pieta, southern Germany, around 1500
© Photo Frank Hellwig: Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Bildarchiv


"...gib mir den Ort" (...give me the place)

15. February 2010 – 15. March 2020

Press release

Six facets of grief for a child

An exhibition by Claus Maywald

with contributions from Chris Paul and Felix Pestemer

The starting point of the exhibition "... gib mir den Ort" is the volume of poetry "Monolog" ("Monologue"). In it Claus Maywald speaks to his daughter Lara, who died at the age of six. In this "Monolog" Claus Maywald experiences the facets of mourning. Chris Paul, the Social Behavioral Scientist and director of the TrauerInstitut Deutschland, described these in her Kaleidoscope of Mourning. The artist and illustrator Felix Pestemer translated the ups and downs of Claus Maywald's path of mourning into large-format soul pictures.

These reflect how difficult it is for those affected to realize the loss and live with the pain. Claus Maywald's search for places where he could "rediscover" his daughter Lara is thus also a search for the meaning of untimely death.

A version of "... gib mir den Ort" can be borrowed as a travelling exhibition.

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1.   "Deine Sonne" (your sun)
drawing: Felix Pestemer, photo: Frank Hellwig
© Felix Pestemer

2. "... aber den Schmerz kann ich spüren".
drawing: Felix Pestemer, photo: Frank Hellwig
© Felix Pestemer

2.  Cover of the catalogue "...gib mir den Ort" by Claus Maywald, drawing: Felix Pestemer
© Claus Maywald


Our new Website is online!

18. March 2020

Press release

Our new webseite is online!

In mid-February 2020, our new website went online after over a half year of conceptual and editorial work. Ten years have passed since the last relaunch, and since then user habits and also the technical possibilities have changed. The relaunch not only takes into account a contemporary presentation through a comprehensive technical revision, but also opens a view of the constant work of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e. V. (Study Group Cemetery and Monument) and the Museum and Central Institute for Sepulchral Culture. Thanks to the modern, clear and concise design, extensive content is available more quickly – even for an international audience.

The responsive design is optimized for all screen sizes, from smartphone to desktop. Large and alternating images and videos guide through the website.


The restructuring of the website gives each of the three areas of the museum, research and the society its own space, thus reflecting their interconnectedness. The different fields of activity are presented in an uncomplicated and user-friendly way. Through multiple cross-references and the consolidation of all the latest news and events from the research activity and the activities of museum and society on the start page, their connection, above all, becomes publicly perceptible. The new structure is not hierarchical, but rather networked and offers quick access for visitors* with different interests and concerns.


In addition to providing up-to-date information, the redesign of the website's content is a step towards the transparency of our current work. For the interested visitor, but also for journalists and researchers, a comprehensive archive of exhibitions and events provides a review of our history and our vision for the future. Our colleagues will report on current projects, offer insight behind the scenes and present special new acquisitions. The accessibility of the library, photo archive and magazine will also be more in focus than before.


The consistent translation of the website into English will do justice to our growing international audience. With this and the expanded content, the website should also be a valuable resource for those who are not able to visit the museum.

Designing and technically implementing the new website was a matter close to my heart, as I already appreciated the Museum for Sepulchral Culture when I was a student in Kassel. The special challenge in developing websites for museums is that the focus is not on the creation and definition of design elements, but rather on the development of a consistent, flexible layout concept and a visual language that arouses curiosity without distracting from the exhibits on display, according to designer and web designer Thorsten Groeger from Hamburg-Altona /

Jutta Lange and Tatjana Ahle

Project management Relaunch

Jutta Lange, art historian, is mainly responsible for communication and editing, inter alia, at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture.

Tatjana Ahle, cultural and religious studies and art, has been working at the museum since March 2019; since September 2019 as part of the KiWIT Trainee Program of the Genshagen Foundation.

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7 Million for Redesign and Refurbishment

29. November 2019

Press release

Implementation of the "Vision for the Future" is approaching:
The German Bundestag provides the Museum for Sepulchral Culture Kassel with 7 million euros

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.

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1. Dr. Dirk Pörschmann, Timon Gremmels and Christian Geselle
Photo: Maja Wirkus
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv

2. Inside the Museum
Photo: Maja Wirkus
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv

3. and 4. : Dr. Ulrich Hermanns, Ausstellung Medien Transfer GmbH


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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