To make a long story short. By Jackie Guigui-Stolberg • Photographs Courtesy Jackie Guigui-Stolberg
The history of Bavaria is a long, long story. That’s why Regensburg’s new Museum of Bavarian History focusses “only” on the last two hundred years. Its main reason-for-being is finally to provide a permanent home for a government agency called Das Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte, which has mounted annual state exhibitions in changing locations since 1983 and will continue to do so. The Stuttgart-based (so non-Bavarian) architects constructed a forbiddingly gray colossus on an empty lot along the Danube river, arguably spoiling views of Regensburg’s ancient cathedral and medieval town center, a UNESCO world heritage site. As could be expected, the museum’s architecture has gotten mixed reviews. And of course Bavaria already had tons of other museums, over 1400 in all. But Regensburg’s new landmark is the first museum to offer a concise, chronological overview of events in Bavarian history.
Many German Life readers who are descendants of Bavarian emigrants will be fascinated by the museum and its on-site and online resources. Bavarian emigration to the U.S. was greatest between about 1850 and 1930, and the new museum will help us understand why. It shows how hard times—but also new technologies, new opportunities, and a new spirit of adventure—motivated Bavarians to seek their fortune far from home. The permanent exhibition takes us through nine clearly dated and named “generations”, often showing history from a personal perspective on the basis of memorabilia collected from the general population.