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Horten, Quelle, Hertie, Kaufhof and Karstadt - corporate names that are disappearing from city centres. The large department stores have lost their permanent place in the cities.


The exhibition "Final Sale - from Department Store to Museum" shows selected lettering of former department stores and department stores from 1980 to the present.



The history of department stores began successfully over 150 years ago: In Europe's first department stores' of the mid-19th century, Parisian customers could expect a wide range of goods at low prices.
Their enormous size and diverse assortment distinguished department stores from smaller department stores specialising in specific merchandise. Then, at the beginning of the 20th century, the luxurious temples of consumption boomed.


The Nazi regime forcibly ended many of these success stories through the so-called "Aryanisation". After the atrocities and destruction of the Second World War, the economic miracle revived the old principle of goods and consumption for all.


The basic idea of the department stores' with fixed prices, cash payment, exchange rights, promotion weeks and advertising worked again. Nevertheless, countless mergers, acquisitions and insolvencies followed in the next decades.


The department stores' concept could no longer keep up with low-price chains, discounters, shopping malls, brand stores and online retailing.



The creeping loss of the corporations also brings with it the disappearance of the distinctive lettering of the department and department stores' chains. The exhibition "Final Sale - from Department Store to Museum" tells the typographic and urban-historical stories of the lettering that was brought to safety and shows its former significance.




Since 2005, the non-profit association Buchstabenmuseum e.V. has been preserving, restoring and exhibiting letters from Berlin and around the world.
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Opening hours:

Thursday to Sunday 1 to 5 pm