Already in 1906 there were over 300 statues, columns, obelisks and towers. Today, more than 700 memorial sites including street and place names are documented.
The national cult figure was also well received in everyday culture as a lucrative merchandising item to sell any amount of Bismarck, from a glass of herring to a tankard of beer.
But from the beginning there were critical, mocking and also aggressive reactions to the glorifying memory. The "monument-smashing" against Bismarck that is perceived today is not new.
There were and are many reasons for the problematization of the Bismarck cult, which quickly distanced itself from the real person. In particular, the use of the chancellor's biography for a nationalist exaggeration of a united – and warlike, expanding – Germany is connected to the uneasiness on the one hand and the outraged defense of his memory on the other.
Currently, it is mainly his role in German colonialism that is leading to arguments about the ubiquitous name.
The exhibition project sees itself as a contribution to the current debate.
Historical information is provided about Bismarck as a person, but above all about the history of his monuments, some of which were toppled. There is also a link to the “Unveiled. Berlin and its monuments”, in which the lost Bismarck bust in the Siegesallee is the subject.
The playful and yet rather critical works of the artists mentioned show the many possibilities of dealing with Bismarck monuments outside of the museum and beyond the destruction.
In addition, they are an encouragement to use the offers made available to visitors and to express their own opinions in a creative way. From guerrilla knitting to voting on renaming, visitors are given opportunities to argue on a constructive basis and to further develop the exhibition as a place for democratic debate.