An Interview with Dr. Rüdiger Kelm door Gijs Klompmaker

“A museum is not only a scientific exhibition, when I want that I can better read a book.”
Dr. Rüdiger Kelm is director of the Archaeological-Ecological Museum and Centre in Albersdorf. In the late 80s en the 90s he studied Archeology, Geography, Botany, Public Law and Pedagogy. For a staff-exchange he went to Borger, to share experiences with the staff-members of the Hunebedcentrum. The Archaeologicals Centres Albersdorf and Borger have a lot in common, but they are definitely not the same.

What is your main expertise?

As a director of the Museum in Albersdorf, our Stone Age park, my main focus lies on developing our Archaeological Ecological Centre as the museum. When you start a study, you don’t know what will come out of it. But my experiences helped me a lot in this function. We have our Archaeological museum since ten years, whitch I’m responsible for. This means more Classical and Traditional Museum work, with special exhibitions . With a focus not only on the stone-age, but also on bronze-age and medieval times. So it’s a lot and it is all very interesting.

How does Alberdorf participate in the Open Arch Project?

We are one of the partners of the Open Arch network. We work together with the museum of Modena.
We are responsible for the theme: The dialogue with skills, handicraft and techniques.
We organized workshops about wood, stone, bronze casting and food. For our educators and colleagues, they should learn of the knowledge of each other and spread it. Learn from the experience of others. But also for the visitors, to get on idea of life back then, to fascinate them.

Why are you visiting Borger?

We have a cooperation with the Hunebedcentrum. That started about ten years ago. We are close to each other, we have the same archaeological background but we are not similar. Here in Borger it started with the biggest Hunebed, than came the Hunebedcentrum and now they go outside with an open air museum. We started with the open air museum, we tried to redevelop the landscape and used it in the way it was used in the prehistory. For example cattle grazing and slash and burn techniques. How did it look 5000 years ago. It is a kind of big open air experiment. The second step was the open air museum. Reconstructions of Neolithic house-structures. From 4000 B.C. till 2000 B.C. In these houses we want to show the range of different structures and development of  this period. And then the third step was the museum. We started from the other side. Borger has an opposite development. We work closely together, we became friends I can say. I’m here for the exchange of ideas and experience, a staff-exchange within the Open Arch Project as well as to talk about the future plans of Megalithic routes.

What’s the biggest strength of Albersdorf?

The wide space and the big area. The forest and the Neolithic village will bring you directly into the past. We educate our visitors, with workshops and activities. The educators take the visitors into  prehistoric life. We have a big space, a living atmosphere with direct contact.
In the beginning we didn’t have prehistoric clothing. Of course no one knows exactly how prehistoric people where dressed. The only example is the iceman Ötzi. So we tried to incorporate some places where people re-enacting prehistoric live. Further on we have guided tours with ‘modern’ persons. It’s not a theatre, but it contributes in a vivid experience for the visitors.  We have to fascinate the visitors, tickle there curiosity.

What is your opinion about the Hunebedcentrum?

At first I think the Hunebedcentrum is a fantastic museum, with very good educational fascination for the prehistoric themes. They have 90.000 visitors, that’s huge. We have 30.000.
It’s a logical step that the Hunebedcentrum is going outside and making reconstructions of houses. If you would like to develop your institution, this seems inevitable. We have a lot of experience on that matter. We however are trying to realise a bigger exhibition-house and that’s where the Hunebedcentrum has a lot of experience. Our cooperation is great. We work with the same themes and within the same time-period, but we have different perspectives. So we learn a lot and can help develop each other. We are no concurrence at all, we are 400 kilometres apart. We have the same topics and themes. We have good ideas and can share our knowledge. No tourist will go form our museum to Borger in one day.

Where lies the future of cultural centres and museums?

A museum has to be relevant. Also in the social context. It has to tell what we can learn from people who lived 5000 years ago. How did they used the food supplies, how did they build their houses? A museum has to connect with the questions we have nowadays. For example sustainability questions, but also demographic changes. The population is getting older. So we have to be a friendly place for elderly people, a meeting place and a place where elderly people voluntarily do meaningful work. So a museum also has a social relevance.

The Open Arch Project is ending this year. How do you see the future?

The idea of the project will remain. The results will be published. On internet we will publish a proceedingsbook about our conference in 2013 in Albersdorf. De cooperation with some of the partners will remain. Perhaps we will see new projects in the future. In the cooperation with the Hunebedcentrum we develop our Megalithic Routes-project. Megalithic Routes has been certified as an official Cultural Route of the Council of Europe in august 2013. We have partners in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Germany. On our annual meeting we try to establish our routes and build a more international cooperation.

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