What It Is and What It Ain’t: Tour of the Neues Museum

By Lyric Jackson

Photo 1Full of an assortment of lunch and energy-filled beverages, my classmates and I made our way towards the Neues Museum to experience the Egyptian and Papyrus Collection. After a factual and enlightening tour of the African Quarter in Wedding with Josephine Apraku, we entered the museum with opened minds and malleable ideas. As Sabine Offe points out in “Sites of Remembrance? Jewish Museums in Contemporary Germany,” museums are expected to portray one or two things and collect and give shelter to a cultural heritage but to also obscure and make a society’s heritage invisible. Offe argues that museums turn into “ambivalent places, established to transform collective guilt and banish it from memory and thereby enhancing its commemoration” (78). I would have to agree that museums are used for the erasure of murders, enslavement, and other forms of domination in order to perpetuate the “look how far we’ve come” complex. It’s difficult trying to focus on the progression of a society when it is built on the subjugation of various communities. The role of the museum is to protect and preserve the pieces “explorers” collected or stolen. The problem with museums is exemplified when the historical narratives they disseminate are sugar-coated and served with a polished spoon.

Photo 7While roaming the bottom floor, I came across a family burial of three children and a mother known as Lady Aline. Tuning into the translating headset, I noticed the automated narrator adding a little sugar to the colonization of ancient Egypt. Lady Aline’s family was said to be an example of the “intermingling of ancient Egyptian tradition and Roman individualism.” The entire recording gave listeners the idea that Romans accepted the culture in honor of Egyptian traditions, when in actuality, Egyptian culture was robbed and exploited. We should also be critical of the terms paired with each group discussed in this description. As Sharon Dodua Otoo points out in “Reclaiming Innoccence: Unmasking Representations of Whiteness in German Theatre,” referencing the work of Marcus Garvey and Noel Ignatiev, “Whiteness works by creating a club, the membership of which is conferred only to certain individuals at birth without their consent” (59).

Photo 8As I continued roaming, I was graced with the “hottest commodity” of the museum, the headliner in every brochure—the bust of Nefertiti. Students (from another course) circled around her, attempting to sketch the divine beauty of the queen. However, the plaque discussing Nefertiti, “the beautiful one has come,” only focused on the appearance of the queen, and made it known that she took the “traditional feminine role.” It primarily focused on the idea that Nefertiti was King Akhenaten’s counterpart. However, the plaque also noted that he valued her influence on the people and her unique ideas to better the kingdom. Still, most observers see Nerfertiti as spectacle of beauty, not as a prominent queen. Maisha Eggers raises the importance of narration in “Knowledgs of (Un-) Belonging: Epistemic Change as a Defining Mode for Black Women’s Activism in German” when she writes, “Narration creates and conserves normalcy, dismantling legitimized and historicized dominant knowledges requires counter-narration,” Eggers explains the vitally of narration when trying to properly record history (7). Along these lines, history should be told with complexity and contradictions, in its most accurate forms.

LyricReigning from the central quarters of Arkansas, Lyric is a Psychology major with a minor in Feminist & Gender Studies. Known for her risk-taking character, she decided to attend Colorado College without visiting the campus once. When she’s not hypnotized by the tunes in her headphones, she spends time writing rhymes and short stories. Her number one priority is to make her family proud and comfortable. On a broader scale, she would like to intertwine her Psychology degree with media in order to start change in the Black community’s mindset. She would start with writing for TV shows to alter the images of Black characters and begin to create highly-ranked, all-Black casted shows that represent various images of Black women. Lyric is extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad, and looks forward to more experiences.

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