The word “Repair!” is placed centrally in the poster motif for the special exhibition. Winding around it are five graphically designed hands in green and white. They hold different objects: a cell phone with a broken display, a wrench, a darned sock, an Asian-looking bowl restored with the Japanese “golden joinery” technique, and an orange-colored mixer. The information “Entrance Ladestraße” and the duration “Dec. 7, 22–Sep. 3, 23” is shown as well.


Repairing is sustainable and a lot of fun – that’s what this special exhibition for families shows! Running from 7 December 2022 to 3 September 2023 at our Ladestraße location, the exhibition offers many opportunities for participation as well as free workshops.

Fixing things makes sense!

This image shows a large globe in the exhibition foyer. Its surface represents the world in a mosaic of electronic waste: the seas are made of small blue circuit board parts, the forests from green circuit boards, and the mountains from brown cables.
This is the show’s opening piece. Unfettered consumerism is littering our planet. This is the thought behind Muharrem Batman’s trash globe. Appearing as our beautiful blue planet from a distance, from close up the sculpture turns out to be made of electronic waste.
SDTB / Foto: C. Kirchner

Whether it’s a cell phone, sneaker, or bicycle, it’s always worth trying to do repairs. Every time we do, we learn how the thing works, and we also hang onto it instead of throwing it away and buying something new. Extending over 500 square meters, the special exhibition Repair! Use Don’t Lose shows how important repairing is for our throw-away society in the face of the climate crisis. Designed specifically with families in mind, the exhibition in the museum’s Ladestraße location offers a lot of participatory activities. Visitors young and old can “dive in” together in our well-equipped hands-on workshop and at interactive stations, where they can do things like darn a hole in a giant sock or fix a broken dike. This direct involvement proves it: fixing things not only makes sense but is also a lot of fun! School classes can book free repair workshops.


A disassembled smartphone: its case, battery, display, camera, sensors, and various modular parts are lined up in a row.
There are only a few electronics companies that work to ensure that their devices can be repaired easily. The company SHIFT makes smartphones that are modular and can be repaired by laypeople using tools that are readily available.
SDTB / Foto: C. Kirchner

Lived Sustainability

This olive-green outdoor coat has been repaired using various strikingly colorful patches. Two iron-on patches showing insects catch the eye, as do names embroidered on wide patches, which indicate those involved in the Berlin collective “STREETWARE saved item.”
Fashion designer Purvi Dhrangadhariya mends discarded clothing with the Berlin collective “STREETWARE saved item.” The collective addresses production methods, consumerism, and the throwaway madness of the fast fashion business model. The coat shown here is a repaired street find.
SDTB / Foto: C. Kirchner; on loan from: Purvi Dhrangadhariya, Berlin

Doing repairs is lived sustainability. Every year, a family of four in Germany throws away an average of 80 kilograms of e-waste. A trash sculpture shown in the exhibition illustrates the magnitude of this problem. It represents a world without the positive impact of repairs. But what this positive impact can look like also comes to light in the exhibition, through examples of sustainability such as an “indestructible” mixer from the time of the German Democratic Republic and a modern repair-friendly smartphone. These examples show how consumers can make choices to save resources and reduce emissions. However, it’s not just about consumer choice: politics and business also have a major obligation here. The exhibition shines a light on current developments regarding the Right to Repair.



(Hi)Stories of Repair

The image shows small, very worn brown leather boots. The laces are missing and holes can be seen in the toe caps and soles.
Though they may look worn, these boots were well looked after. Leather was used to patch holes and brittle spots. The leather soles were mended with patches of hard rubber, allowing two siblings to wear this same pair of shoes over the course of several years.
SDTB / Foto: C. Kirchner, on loan from: Industriemuseum Elmshorn

There are many exciting repair stories to be discovered in the exhibition. Extensively darned underwear and oft-patched children’s boots from the early 20th century tell of hardship and of repairs born of necessity. With the Japanese “golden repair,” it’s a different story: restored using the kintsugi technique, a tea bowl from the Edo period illustrates the great value traditionally attached to repaired objects in Japanese culture. Another example of repair comes from as far away as outer space. Here, the exciting story of the 1970 Apollo 13 mission is told, in which an improvised repair of the air filtration system saved the lives of the mission’s astronauts. Another aspect of repair comes to life when several of the exhibition’s protagonists talk about their personal experience with doing repairs. Visitors learn, for example, what you can do if your wheelchair breaks down and you’re on a pilgrimage, far away from any workshop.



The photo shows a white amphibian with red and lilac gills, inside an aquarium, hovering above white sand.
The Mexican amphibian is a true master of self-repair. It can rebuild limbs in a short time if they have been severed. Two specimens of this extraordinary animal can be visited and observed in the exhibition. They are kept there in a species-appropriate manner and will subsequently find a new home in the biology station of a Berlin high school. The exhibition shows that repair techniques from nature can be models for technology.
SDTB / R. Spierling

Self-Repair in Living Beings

Another inspiring subject in the exhibition is the “self-repair” that can be observed in plants, animals, and other living beings. This is why the axolotl is the mascot of Repair! The Mexican amphibian is a true master of self-repair: it is able to grow new limbs within a short time if they become severed from his body. Two live specimens of this extraordinary animal can be visited and observed in the exhibition. They are being kept in a species-appropriate manner and will subsequently find a new home in the biology station of a Berlin high school. Examples ranging from microbes to Cooper’s ice plant illustrate that self-repair is natural in plants and other living organisms, and that they can be models for technology.


Just Do It!

Three children work together to repair a colorful wooden toy car standing on a table.
Car kaput? At this interactive station, the aim is to work together to find the problemand get the vehicle working again.
SDTB / Hattendorf

Today, many people no longer feel confident doing everyday repairs. They lack the tools or the knowledge. The exhibition invites visitors to participate in hands-on activities and rediscover repair work. In the many hands-on stations, visitors can sew on buttons, artistically refurbish tables with colorful mosaic stones, or find out which tool fits which bolt or screw. The exhibition is especially well suited to families and inter-generational groups: here, Grandma and Grandpa can teach practical skills and show their grandchildren what they are capable of. A large hands-on workshop in the center of the exhibition opens the space for new repair experiences through workshops, demonstrations, and a Repair Café. Did you already know? There are about 50 Repair Cafés in all districts of Berlin.

Programming for All Visitors

On weekends, the exhibition offers a number of opportunities to get involved. There is a monthly Repair Café, where visitors are supported in their repair efforts. There are presentations about printing spare parts with a 3D printer, and there are family workshops in which old socks and buttons can be used to make things like axolotl hand puppets.

Under the patronage of Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection.

Logo of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection.riums für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz. Neben der Schrift sieht man links den schwarze Bundesadler und in einem vertikalen Balken die Nationalfarben Schwarz-Rot-Gold.

Media partners:

Das Logo of radio station radio eins. The word "radio" is set in grey, "eins" in orange. und daneben hochgestellt "rbb" in Weiß auf rotem Grund.
Logo of Himbeer magazine, with the word "Himbeer" in pink, the words "Berlin mit Kind" in black.