Dagmar von Wilcken – Designer of the exhibition at the Information Centre

Picture: Starting Hall

The Design Concept for the Information Centre

In designing the exhibition rooms, Dagmar von Wilcken sought to combine content and architectural elements to achieve an aesthetic unity of the two.
The stelae of the Memorial are reflected formally in the Information Centre, but depart from their abstract level and instead serve as bearers of information. The framework and formal language of the Field of Stelae are echoed in that their original appearance is picked up on as a theme and varied in a modulated form. This metamorphosis takes on a different appearance in each of the four exhibition rooms. It is thus brought home to the visitors that they are in an unmistakable and distinctive location, namely beneath the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. By altering the function of the stelae into a bearer of information, a formal link is forged between the Field of Stelae and the Information Centre, a transition from the abstract plane to that of concrete content.
The first exhibition room contains quotations from the memoirs and statements of the victims and a presentation of the European dimension of the Holocaust. The quotations are written on glass plates mounted in the floor and illuminated from below. In its size and placement, each of these plates mirrors a stelae above, forming a virtual continuation of the stelae field above ground.
In the second room, the stelae »penetrate« the Information Centre from above. Fifteen life stories are presented on them, representative for the fate of many Jewish families in Europe. The stelae, which appear to penetrate through the ceiling into the Information Centre to a length of 0.7 metres, are in turn interpenetrated by these individual life histories. Back lighting behind the stelae illuminates the room. In addition, each stelae casts light in its outline on the floor and reflects it indirectly into the room.
The third room, the Room of Names, is totally empty except for three benches. In contrast with the other three thematic rooms, here the framework of the stelae field is referred to only by the size and arrangement of the benches.
In the fourth room, the Room of Sites, the stelae extend out from the walls toward the visitor. The geographic dimension of the Holocaust is the prime focus. The broad sides of the cubes serve as projection surface for historical film and photo material.

Short Biography of Dagmar von Wilcken

Dagmar von Wilcken, born in 1958, studied object design and visual communication. She was awarded the degree of Diploma in 1987 from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. Active professionally as a freelance exhibition designer, she had numerous exhibitions for the Bauhaus Archives Berlin. From 1995 to 2004, she worked on the design of the permanent exhibition »Spuren des Unrechts« (Traces of Injustice) for the Documentation and Information Centre Torgau. She has been connected with numerous exhibitions commissioned by the Foundation »Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum Berlin«, including the exhibition »Jews in Berlin – 1938 to 1945«. From 2001 to 2005, she worked on the comprehensive design concept for the exhibit in the Information Centre of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. She was also responsible for the design concepts of the special exhibitions »›What Was Deemed fully Legal at the Time ...‹ – Soldiers and Civilians Tried before the Courts of the Military«, »Fire! Anti-Jewish Terror on Kristallnacht in 1938« and »The Unknown Extermination Camp at Chełmno nad Nerem«.