Friday, 13 June 2014

The Ramones Museum in Berlin

After my successful trip to Germany last year visiting the Lippmann + Rau Musikarchiv in Eisenach and the Klaus Kuhnke Archiv fur Populare Musik in Bremen, it is great to be able to return to this hot house of popular music preservation; this time to Berlin to see the Ramones Museum. This is only the second artist-dedicated museum I have visited for this research, the other one being KD's Elvis Presley Museum in New Zealand, and the two examples of this kind of heritage enterprise are very different.

Founder Flo Hayler is an enigmatic punk who developed a deep interest in the Ramones in his early teens and went on to amass a significant collection, based in part on the personal relationships he formed with people associated with the band. Over time the collection grew too large to be comfortably accommodated in the home (I have heard a number of the collectors in my project speak of wives/partners/girlfriends who eventually ask for a collection to be relocated, KD's Elvis collection being one such example) and this eventually led to the creation of a small museum where the collection could be opened to the public.

After a stint in a small basement, Flo went on to open the incredible space that is the current Ramones Museum. In addition to the display of an impressive array of memorabilia, including some fantastic photographs by an early manager of the band that capture a more private, less leather clad, version of the Ramones, this is also a trendy bar/cafe and small live music venue. Flo attempts to run this space in a way that embraces the original DIY ethos of punk. It is also a space where Flo can escape after entry hours to be surrounded by his collection, or to enjoy it surrounded by others as they listen to bands play on the small purpose built stage.

The Ramones Museum is a really lovely example of a DIY institution. In the 2 hours I was there approximately 10 people visited the museum, others came in to get takeaway coffee or to sit in the cafe, making for a very lively space. Sales in the cafe/bar provide the all important revenue to sustain the museum and build the collection.

You definitely don't need to be a fan of the Ramones to enjoy the Ramones Museum - this really is a must visit if in Berlin.