09.04.2017 – 01.10.2017

Object Lessons

Logo Object Lessons
Logo Object Lessons
Photo: Michael Lio / Exhibition poster, graphic design: L2M3
If you can make a candle from fat or a pen from fish bones, you can survive in prison. If you know how blood reacts with lemon juice, you can remove stubborn stains. If you know why polylactide is more sustainable than polyethylene, you can change the world. Today, knowledge about materials, their origins and processing has rarely been more sought-after, yet at the same time it is specialized, concealed and left in the hands of experts. How can such knowledge be made accessible to everyone?

This exhibition is divided into eight chapters which recount the story of learning with, about and through materials: in science, at school, in commerce, crafts and at home, in novels and films, in the archive and on the Internet. Its focal point is an “object lesson box”. This small box, which contains over a hundred materials, was developed as a teaching aid in the nineteenth century.

From tree books, crushed slag, mussel silk, hares’ scuts, cork stoppers, cloud leather and bioplastics, and from early DIY manuals to the digital materials archive, the exhibition shows that material literacy has always been relevant, why it was forgotten and what it may look like in the future.

An exhibition by the Werkbund Archive – Museum der Dinge, Berlin.
Curators: Ann-Sophie Lehmann (University of Groningen) & Imke Volkers (Museum der Dinge, Berlin)