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“A.k.a. The No-Point-Museum”

Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum
Ranked #20 of 274 things to do in Cologne
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: A rice storage hut and and a full Javanese gamelan greet you at this unique museum that aims to unite humanity across cultures and gives visitors an opportunity to explore their own prejudices and preconceived notions. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and the first Thursday of the month until 10 p.m.
Reviewed December 19, 2014

There are good facts about this museum. First and foremost the technology they are using is impressive,except for the audio guide there are showcases which wait for your touch to light up and display the description of the artifacts,interactive books which display their content after the page is turned and many audio-visual descriptions. The welcome video is very moving, people from all over the world greeting each other and the guest in their language, I couldn't get enough of it. Also the personnel is very helpful, excluding the man in the audioguide desk which speaks very little English and gets rude when you ask him questions (although it was not my fault he gave me the wrong audio guide...) And that's about it.
The main subject of this museum is supposed to be anti-racism, displaying objects and aspects of everyday life in the former European colonies,together with the stories of the discoveries/exploitation of those lands. First and foremost,it goes wayyyyy on about the discoverers,how they got tattoos,how were their houses decorated etc etc. Why would anybody be interested in such details? "here is the basin that dr. Oppenheimer used when shaving...." Seriously???
When we leave dr. Oppenheimer's lavishly decorated salon,we are placed in a big white room which shows videos describing how coloured peoplebwhere considered dangerous and/or contaminated,and how they were exploited and how that is wrong and so on. Those descriptions however are done in such an intense tone that they border on racism towards Europeans. As a European I didn't enjoy that very much. I like to believe that those where mistaken opinions of the past and to move on, not have someone throw them in my face. I am fully aware that our separate societies can't be considered 100 percent racism-free, but my main argument is this : even if there are such narrow minded people they will never visit such a museum to have their narrow-mindedness thrown in their faces. For the more understanding people like me however, this museum was mostly a live repetition of the things/stories/utensils that I had already seen in encyclopedias.
My third and final argument about this museum is that the showcases are DISTURBING! And it gets worse room by room! Voodoo dolls, hideous headdresses, the ugliest statues I had ever seen, videos of wailing during funerals and live making of mummies??? Shouldn't someone have put these in the description??? I don't have a very thick stomach and frankly, I left disturbed, to put it mildly.
Last but not least, in the description it is mentioned that 1-2 hours are needed to see everything. Normally that would be the case, however, the audio guide goes on and on about every showcase for around 4 minutes and there are approximately 100 showcases. Adding the videos and the in-wall audio descriptions,one might as well need 3-4 hours to see and hear everything as detailed as it's supposed to be. Needless to say, the endless rambling of the audioguide bothered me so much I hardly used it...
Summarizing the above, I think this would be a hit museum some 30-40 years earlier but for 2014 I think it's a bit outdated and blah, technology aside. Also fair warning, it is NOT pretty. I wouldn't rate it an experience I would have liked to have skipped, but it wasn't pleasant either.

4  Thank SissyTsk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"different cultures"
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27 - 31 of 149 reviews

Reviewed August 7, 2014

When I visited part of the museum was closed, but even the part I saw was great and gave you an insight to different cultures. So if you are interested in cultures do make this one of you museums to visit in Koln.
The museum had also a lot of interactive displays that were not just for children and gave a deeper understanding on certain issues.
The museum is located close to the Neumarkt and the shopping streets that start there.

4  Thank emcFIN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2014

Wish we had skipped this one. It was a very neat museum- interactive, modern, had a lot of technology, but was not as interesting as I thought it would be.

Thank Carrie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2014

I cannot express how interesting I found this museum! It presents a much more challenging way of looking at museum objects than is usual. It challenged why we put things in museums, invited you to look at objects through Western and original owner eyes, plus the form and layout of exhibition was outstanding - things in drawers and boxes, things you could only see close up, things embedded in the floor, a meditative space... It's probably the best museum I've ever been to. I would highly recommend it for adults and children.

2  Thank eviemou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 22, 2014

The museum's curators have tried to come up with a better way of doing something with their collection built on a base of old colonial artefacts than the traditional 'by geography' approach of their peers. It almost works, and their effort is well worth a visit.

In some ways the gallery on 'what's wrong with the traditional approach ?' was the most interesting - the objects collected in the 19th and early 20th centuries reflecting more the values and priorities of the collectors than representing what went on in the lives of the people from whom they came. So the preponderance of weapons represents (it is argued) Europe's 19th century preoccupation rather than an African or Indonesian obsession with the war. And typically a museum displays objects out of context leaving the visitor unable to work out what their role was in daily life. So the RJM sorts by category - starting with greetings (that's an amusing 21st century video addition!), art, doorways, living space, dress, ..... and ending with funerals and religion. (The gallery on 'ritual' was closed when I visited). The overall effect is to emphasise humanity's similarities across cultures rather than its differences.

A few factual and technical details go wrong - a magnificent 3D map on colonialism before the first world war is labelled 'colonies in 2009' (or was that someone's joke?); the impressive and carefully lit gallery of human figures has too many fierce permanent ceiling spotlights (combined with a lack of antireflective glass) that mars the intended effect. But don't let that put you off visiting this magnificent museum !

Labelling in German and English; extensive audio guide available in German and English.

I went because of the temporary special exhibition on Tapa - this was quite a difficult topic for an exhibition and done well, but the permanent collection was the surprise real draw for me.

1  Thank Amstraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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