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September 20, 2019

Selfies banned at Dutch museum’s Nazi design expo


September 20, 2019

HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands: A Dutch museum has banned visitors from taking photos at a controversial exhibition of designs from Hitler’s Nazi regime to stop them being "interpreted the wrong way".

The crowds at the Design Museum in Den Bosch -- which has been sold out since "Design in the Third Reich" opened earlier this month -- look like those at any other museum, but with two important exceptions.

Firstly, there is the extraordinary backdrop -- 277 articles ranging from a 1940s Volkswagen Beetle to statues of Hitler’s favourite sculptor Arno Breker, propaganda posters and films by Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl.

And secondly, the tell-tale lack of the smartphones that are normally ubiquitous at any tourist attraction or place of interest anywhere in the world. The exhibition’s opening prompted protest from left-wing and anti-fascist groups who said they feared it could serve as a Nazi shrine.

Museum spokeswoman Maan Leo said extraordinary measures had been taken, including banning photography inside, posting extra staff and only allowing 50 visitors entry at a time. Tickets can only be purchased online. The reason no pictures are allowed "is that we place every single object within the exhibition in a historical context that highlights the horrible endgame of the Nazi regime," Leo told AFP. "If you take one of these objects out of context, it might be interpreted the wrong way," she said.

Curious museum-goers have been flocking to see the expo, with some 10,000 online tickets ordered since launch on September 8, the Dutch news agency ANP said on Wednesday. But what happens for instance if somebody tries to take a selfie with a Hitler poster in the background?

"We can ban people from the museum or remove people from the museum based on their actions. So if people behave badly within the exhibition we ask them to go," said Leo. "But neo-Nazis don’t usually wear a big swastika on their forehead.

"We believe you have to be a very sick person to come away from this exhibition and think... ‘yeah, that’s a good idea’," she said. The purpose of the exhibition was instead to get people thinking about the different ways the Third Reich managed to take hold of people’s minds.

"What you see in this exhibition is how Nazi design permeated every little nook and cranny of society between 1933 and 1945", Mann said. "It’s important to know how that process of seduction worked and what role design played" in Nazi Germany, she said.

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