Spiegelkugeleinkaufswagen "disko", Thorsten Mühlbach

Extended until further notice

Sheer Luxury

What is luxury? A glittering shopping cart? A sports car? A designer dress? Or a day in the hammock? From material objects such as cars, fashion and yachts, to intangible needs such as time, peace and security, to the renunciation of luxury and consumption: In seven thematic areas, the exhibition is concerned with different ideas of luxury from a historical perspective, always with a view to the present.

How different were attitudes to luxury in the East and West of a divided Germany? Did the economy in West Germany foster a desire to consume evermore luxury goods? And why did the GDR fail to achieve the prescribed goal of creating an equal society, where striving for luxury is overcome?

Today, luxury is attainable for many people. But can you have too much of it? Could less be more? Does luxury increase the gap between rich and poor? These questions accompany the history of luxury and show it as a phenomenon that moves society: as a sign of social status, a prosperity indicator, an economic factor, an expression of lifestyles and the epitome of inequality.

A dream or a waste? Pleasure or pomp? Everyone has their own idea of luxury. Yet it also depends on the society we live in and which we also help to shape. As a history of change, our exhibition looks at the last 70 years, showing what people in Germany view as luxury and how they react to it.

Highlights of the exhibition include a coat made out of swan feathers by Marlene Dietrich, a "handmade" Porsche from the GDR and a golden toilet. Various luxury experts illuminate different aspects of the phenomenon. With around 400 original objects, documents, films and photographs, the exhibition shows luxury as a dream, a mission statement and a lifestyle, and also asks what a society without luxury would be like.

Golden toilet "RD Luxury"
Chronometer Tourbillon, Wilhelm Rieber
"Prosperity Altar", Ludwig-Derleth-Realschule, Gerolzhofen
Soup cup for turtle soup, Thomas-Porzellan/Rosenthal - Lacroix
Women's combination, original Bormann model
exhibition poster, Claudia Grotefendt, Bielefeld