17 March 2016
  |   Until:  
28 August 2016

Berlin – City of Women

History told through 20 Life Stories

As is the case almost everywhere in the world, it is mostly men who have written Berlin’s history. In politics, culture and architecture, they have shaped our perception of the city’s evolution. But this is not the whole story.

Even 150 years ago, Berlin was a place where many things could be done that seemed impossible elsewhere – particularly for women. This exhibition presents the life stories of 20 women, showing how they cast off the corset of societal constraints, what they experienced and how they helped to shape the city's history.

These women cast off the corset of societal constraints. © Stadtmuseum Berlin | photo: Oliver Ziebe

Berlin was not only a showcase for women’s increasing societal engagement, it was also a driving force of it. One reason for this is the Verein zur Förderung der Erwerbstätigkeit des weiblichen Geschlechts (Society for the Promotion of Employment for the Female Sex), founded here in 1866 by Wilhelm Adolf Lette. The socio-political advocate, lawyer and representative of St Paul’s Church recognised that the only way to transform Berlin from a Biedermeier town into a modern metropolis was through a common effort involving all members of society. For this reason, he created educational opportunities designed especially for women: a project that his daughter Anna Schepeler-Lette continued with great success for almost 30 years after his death and that has now been underway for 150 years.

Vibrant Traces of Life Stories

With more than 400 works and personal memorabilia items, the exhibition retraces the life stories of women who – each in her own way – represent Lette’s principles. Multilingual texts and audio guides tell the stories of these women whose lives were rooted in Berlin or interwoven with the city and its history. Media stations provide a direct connection. Vivid scenography brings pivotal moments to life. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive programme of events.


  • zoologist and director of the Berlin Zoo Katharina Heinroth
  • chairwoman of the Klub der Berliner Trümmerfrauen (Berlin Women’s Rubble-Clearers Club) Anni Mittelstädt
  • salonnière Cornelie Richter
  • politician and Berlin mayor Louise Schroeder
  • architect Emilie Winkelmann



  • pilot and author Elly Beinhorn
  • author Marie von Bunsen
  • writer and feminist Hedwig Dohm
  • singer and actress Fritzi Massary
  • feminist and first head of the Lette Verein, Anna Schepeler-Lette



  • painter, muse and model Charlotte Berend-Corinth
  • graphic artist, painter and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz
  • sculptor and graphic artist Renée Sintenis
  • painter and illustrator Jeanne Mammen
  • photographer and photojournalist Eva Kemlein



  • photographer and photography historian Gisèle Freund
  • photographer Marie Kundt
  • educator Dora Lux
  • physicist and director of the Lette Verein Clara von Simson
  • dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman


An exhibition in collaboration with Lette Verein Berlin.

Sponsored by Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin