History of the museum
"As a passionate defender of interests and rights of his fellow Russian-Germans the founder of the museum, Otto Hertel, thought that people with no past can't have a future either."
In the beginning was the vision
Like every museum, the one in Detmold began very small before it became a unique place describing or exhibiting the history and culture of Russian-Germans today. There were many initiatives to start museums in Germany for and about immigrants or Russian-Germans. In Detmold, the initiative started with physics teacher and former human rights activist in the Soviet Union, Otto Hertel. As a passionate defender of the interests and rights of his fellow Russian-Germans, Hertel thought that people with no past can't have a future either. His desire to keep the past alive, to pass it on to the next generation, to show them their roots, and to underline and preserve the uniqueness of the Russian-German culture were the reasons for founding the museum.
The center of the collection used to be a traveling exhibition made by Otto Hertel and a few donated pieces from other supporters. March 16th, 1996 was the museum's official opening. The museum was located in one room, approximately 90 m2 in size and included an office, the library, the archives as well as the permanent exhibition.
The museum was accommodated on the grounds of the Christlicher Schulförderverein Lippe e. V. (Association of Christian Schools in the County of Lippe), next to a primary school and two secondary schools. The proximity to these private schools where a majority of the students came from a Russian-German background posed to be an excellent location from a museum educational point of view. Sadly, the founder did not get an opportunity to witness the museum's growth and development in which he had invested every minute of his remaining time on earth. After Otto Hertel had passed away in 1999 Dr. Katharina Neufeld filled the position as museum director. In 2002 the Verein für russlanddeutsche Kultur und Volkskunde e. V. (Association for Russian-German Culture and Ethnology) was founded as the sponsoring association to expand the work of the museum and insure long-term growth. The main work is done by volunteer staff from the board.
A new museum
In 2009 the Christian Schulförderverein Lippe e. V. suggested a new building for the museum. As a result, a building came into being that met all the necessities of the museum.
It consists of the permanent exhibition in the center which is spread over two floors, a library, office space, archives, and rooms for traveling exhibitions.
The architecture firm Brand integrated the museum perfectly into the already existing school building. The concept of the permanent exhibition and its historical content was the lone responsibility of Dr. Katharina Neufeld. The museum concept was developed by Ms. Julia Debelts from Szenario - Ausstellung und Kommunikation (a company for exhibitions and communication). The concept was realized by the architect Witalis Hagelgans, holder of the company Hagelgans Architektur. July 22nd to 23rd, 2011 the new exhibition "UNPACKED - PAST AND PRESENCE OF GERMANS IN RUSSIA" with more than 1000 visitors was opened.