Home Arts Police Guard German Museum in Response to Right-Wing Threats

Police Guard German Museum in Response to Right-Wing Threats

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Police are standing guard outside the Zeche Zollern in Germany after the museum received right-wing backlash over designated time slots for visitors who are Black, Indigenous, or belong to other racial and ethnic groups that have been historically harmed by colonialism. Located in Dortmund, the museum developed four-hour time slots on Saturdays to create a “safe space” for these visitors to view its current exhibition, This Is Colonial, which has been on view since March 18 and wraps October 15.

In correlation with the new exhibition, which examines Germany’s colonial history, the Zeche Zollern wanted to create a space for visitors “affected by racism” where they could experience the exhibition while still “protect[ing] themselves from further (even unconscious) discrimination,” according to the museum’s website, which also notes that admission during these time periods is “not controlled and works on a trust basis.”

The Zeche Zollern Museum has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.

A viral TikTok video posted late last month in which two White men accuse museum staff of discriminating against White people resulted in a flurry of right-wing criticism and threats to the museum, the Washington Post reported last week. As a result, local officials have deployed police officers to guard the museum staff and its visitors.

Barbara Rüschoff-Parzinger, who heads the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe’s cultural department, which the Zeche Zollern belongs to, told the Washington Post that the footage in the viral TikTok had been edited to falsely suggest that White visitors were banned from the museum exhibition. She confirmed to the Washington Post that the individuals had never been requested nor forced to leave the exhibition, and claimed that the museum staff featured in the video are now suing for defamation, as they were not aware they were being recorded.

The outrage continued online as people accused the museum of racism against White visitors. “A request that separates people based on the color of their skin is definitely racism,” one user wrote underneath a Facebook video published by the museum. On TikTok, commenters expressed concerns about the “oppression of White people” in response to an explanatory video published by media outlet Deutsche Welle.

Unsurprised by the White outrage, many users online disagreed with the accusations of discrimination and lauded the German museum for its efforts. “I love this and wish this could be done in the US as well,” wrote one user on TikTok, who self-identified as a history teacher.

In the TikTok video, Deutsche Welle reporter Briana Ekanem praised the initiative. “It’s an experiment to be sensitive to those who might be more affected by colonialism and let BIPOC people process without facing further discrimination,” she said. “I think this move is a commendable one.

“Our exhibition workshop invites all visitors to actively participate and discuss the topic of (post)colonialism in preparation for the exhibition,” a spokesperson for the museum wrote on Facebook in response to some of the online comments. The spokesperson reiterated that there was “no regulated entry” and that “a request is not racism.”

“We take the criticism seriously and will take it into account in future exhibitions,” the spokesperson also wrote.

The museum told the Washington Post that the police will remain at the museum until the exhibition closes next month.

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