An exhibition by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden
Genf: February 2019 to August 2019
Lyon: October 2019 to August 2020
Dresden: 26 September 2020 to 31 May 2021
Curators: Isabel Dzierson, Marianne Rigaud-Roy, Sandra Sunier
Design: Holzer Kobler Architekturen
Nick, cooler, clink … there are plenty of euphemisms around for the word ‘prison’. It’s a place most of us have only ever seen from the outside, evoking a mix of unease, but also fascination. It’s the place where they lock up those whose actions are unlawful and detrimental to society. Imprisonment is aimed at protecting the population from criminals, punishing said criminals and, in an ideal scenario, helping them to reintegrate society.
In a joint collaborative project with its two partner museums in Geneva and Lyon, the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum is looking at the complex social issue of prisons. Exhibition pieces from penal institutions, contemporary art, ethnographic exhibits and documentary material will open up all sorts of perspectives on life behind bars. The prisoners themselves have a say, along with prison staff and other experts in the field.
The exhibition examines the historical origins of the prison system and highlights the problems it currently faces. Indeed, European prisons are faced with the problem that they often fail to reintegrate prisoners into society, not to mention the multitude of social inequalities, for which there are still very few solutions. The main question that emerges against this backdrop is that of the precise purpose of imprisonment and what of perception society has of the prison system and its sentencing structure: it is revenge, justice, prevention, or even providence in the old fashioned sense of the term? Does a modern society still need institutions such as prisons? Or are there other, more effective means of dealing with crime and punishment?