For the next five months, the Den Bosch Museum of Design is showcasing a controversial exhibition labeled ‘the first great exposition of the ‘Design of the Third Reich’. According to the museum, the collection “shows the contribution of design to the development of the evil Nazi ideology” and includes a sculpture by Adolf Hitler’s favorite artist Arno Breker, swastikas, a 1943 VW Beetle, photos, and Leni Riefenstahl films from the Nazi era.
The exhibition ignited backlash from the Association of Dutch Anti-fascists who called for authorities to intervene. Local activists reportedly protested the exhibition citing concerns that the museum exhibit glorifies Nazi ideology.
According to the Guardian, museum director Timo de Rijk said he personally spoke with the protestors and that he was “sensitive to the need to avoid glorifying the exhibits and all efforts were being made to treat the issue with sensitivity.” De Rijk stated, “From the start we explain that this was a racist ideology and that the party’s aim was to establish a racist volk culture. The exhibition has the feel of a documentary.”
The museum’s website explains of the exhibit, “We are quite used to museums showing the good side of culture…However, design reflects the whole of the world, with all its good and bad sides. The Design of the Third Reich exhibition shows design as an instrument in the hands of the ultimate forces of darkness.”
The exhibition commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Den Bosch from the Nazis and reportedly features exhibits lent by the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin and the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich though, according to the Guardian, neither institution is officially partnering with the museum in Den Bosch “because of the sensitivity of the subject.”