The Museum Europäischer Kulturen is dedicated to the study and presentation of lifeworlds and cultural contacts within Europe from the 18th century to the present day. The current exhibition "Cultural Contact. Living In Europe" offers a cross-section of the museum’s extensive holdings while addressing contemporary issues such as social movements and national boundaries.
The cultural exchange resulting from today’s increased immigration to and mobility within Europe fosters hybrid cultures, but also raises questions of belonging and identity for individuals as well as groups. The various objects on display in the exhibition demonstrate the decisive role of cultural intersections in Europe: A 1910 gondola from Venice, for example, can evoke topics as varied as trade, travel, early media, immigration, cultural sitings, and religiosity. Among the exhibition’s more unusual objects is a twelve-metre socalled Christmas Mountain from the Erzgebirge region in Eastern Germany, comprising 328 partially moveable figures that portray the life of Jesus Christ. This unique dramatisation from the 19th/20th centuries is also the result of cultural contacts within Europe.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen has a rotating study collection, open to the general public, which displays ensembles of objects from the museum’s extensive collection. The museum regularly organises special exhibitions with accompanying publications to deepen the audience’s appreciation of various topics in the permanent display. The "European Cultural Days", an annual series of events with an exhibition developed in conjunction with European partners, has the same purpose, educating audiences each year about a particular city, region, or country in Europe.
One of the museum’s special attractions is the recurring European Easter and Handicrafts Market, as well as Textile Day, at which textile artists present their works and teach their techniques. Aside from guided tours and holiday courses for children and youth, the museum also regularly offers artist workshops for adults.
Another important part of the museum’s external work involves creating exhibitions in conjunction with the Federal Programme of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), which are then lent to museums within Germany or neighbouring countries. Additionally, the museum is actively involved in international cultural projects and museum networks.