On 24 February, museum employees at the Schwules Museum in Berlin discovered evidence of an attack on the institution’s building. Two window panes, the illuminated sign with the museum’s name, and a work of art hanging in front of the entrance door were damaged by gunfire. The attack appears to have happened overnight. The Berlin police department have investigated the scene and collected evidence, though the full extent and cost of the damage is yet to be determined.
Now one of the largest LGBTQ museums in the world, the Schwules Museum was founded in 1984 to support the queer community as well as research on queer history, art and activism. This, however, is not the first time the museum has been targeted: in 2020, one of the museum’s window panes was severely damaged by rocks, and in 2016, the window at the reception area was shot in six places with firearms.
‘I think it’s important to state that we don’t know who did this or why’, Ben Miller, historian and board member of the museum, told Dazed Magazine. ‘However, I’m not sure it’s possible to think about this incident without considering the right-wing, anti-queer mobilisation that we’re seeing around the world. And I think it’s fair to say that we are certainly the target of that kind of mobilisation in general.’ Physical attacks aside, the museum has also experienced Neo-Nazi demonstrations as well as regular threats from phone calls and on social media.
According to a statement issued by the museum, the damaged piece of artwork is a part of Elizabeth Sweeney’s the Unrelenting (2022), created for the ongoing exhibition Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer, on view through 29 May. The black triangular piece hanging outside the museum references the badges used by the Nazis to label and stigmatise a diverse range of people.