Rubbish is a worldwide problem. There is garbage everywhere. The most visible and tangible aspect of the looming environmental crisis is rubbish. An online platform and an exhibition are now attempting to make visible the often unknown history of waste in Europe, as well as the societal transformation of the throwaway society. Eleven European museums, including Berlin’s Museum of European Cultures, are taking part in the project, which was started and organized by the House of European History in Brussels, by displaying items and telling stories about throwing away, reusing, and avoiding.
The interactive, multilingual and interactive digital platform “Throwaway” has been available since the end of February. It features object biographies of more than 70 digitised artefacts from the collections of the participating museums, audiovisual stories from Europe on the topic of waste, as well as blogposts, photo reports, live broadcasts and podcasts on many different activities and events taking place during the project. On the occasion of the opening of the special exhibition, “Runs. The exhibition on menstruation”. The Museum of European Cultures is providing six object biographies and seven film stories on the subject of menstrual waste to the platform.
The House of European History in Brussels is hosting the project’s main exhibition, “Discarded – The History of the Modern Throwaway Society” through January 14, 2024. It is divided into four sections that look at waste in Europe historically: Did you mean garbage? ; From reuse to throwaway (1800–1945); throwaway Europe (1945–present); living with/without garbage. The industrial revolution, the scarcity economy of wartime, the swelling flood of waste in postwar consumer society, and today’s barely controllable waste crisis are all illuminated. Those behind the project have their say in the exhibition’s catalogue (in English), from curators and museum educators to exhibition designers and waste specialists from the field. Furthermore, scientists discuss waste from the viewpoints of history, archaeology, sociology, anthropology, and art.
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