»I thought they were Irish«
Two frequently asked question in our entrance hall are: »I thought they were Irish« and »Why is there a Kennedy museum in Berlin?« Some of our visitors are concerned with the questions why people make an effort to donate a museum to a foreign family in one of the most beautiful places in Berlin. What is the idea behind THE KENNEDYS?
Well, there is the attraction of seeing personal belongings of prominent personalities like Jack and Jackie Kennedy closely, for example, the famous briefcase by Hermès, which JFK took around on his last drive through Dallas. It is one of the central exhibits in the museum, as well as a hair comb, a suitcase and a shirt – all objects were owned by John F. Kennedy – which quicken the fantasy of the viewers.
Further, the museum offers the opportunity to see the history of one particular era from different angles. The Kennedys become a sort of lens through which the visitor’s view towards history will be enriched enormously in many respects.
In order to understand the rising of the Kennedys, their politics and social engagements, it is very important to understand the societal framework and its effect upon them. That applies to elderly visitor, who still remember the Kennedys very well, but also to school classes who put the wheel of history into reverse. Here, you can grasp the atmosphere of careers, drama, and one of the most moving days in the 20th-century history of Berlin.
It happens quite often that our visitors’ eyes are filled with tears when they leave our museum. Some of those visitors who are old enough tell us exactly what they did and where they were when JFK was assassinated or when he gave one of his famous speeches. School classes become silent when they watch the video in our show room, showing JFK’s car drive through Berlin, in those days when their own grandparents were young, and listening to his famous words: »Ich bin ein Berliner.«
Even those visitors who think they know everything – or almost all – about the Kennedys get the chance to experience the Kennedys in our museum, because a museum does not only aim to show data and chronology, but also it makes it possible to apply oneself to the subject. The flood of information and columns of figures are not the central points here, it is rather that they enrich our exhibits and the whole experience of our museum, which aims to satisfy, and also to arouse, curiosity.
The unique location of our museum will amaze you when you leave the museum at the end of your visit. In 1963, the Berlin Wall and barbed wire fences dominated the scenery around the Brandenburg Gate. Today many tourists come here to visit the Gate and they are fascinated by the symbol of the peacefully reunited Germany.
Yes, it is true. The Kennedys are an American family of Irish descent. But to be honest, they, a little bit, belong to the whole world. And a little bit more they belong to Berlin.