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Conference Report German Spa Museums

News from Oct 04, 2021

Report on the Conference of the Association of German Spa Museums in Bad Salzuflen

On 23-25 September 2021, Christian Noack and Wiebke Kolbe from the European Spa Project attended the 15th annual conference of the Association of German Spa Museums. The association celebrated its 15th anniversary by meeting again this year in Bad Salzuflen, where it was founded in 2007. Chairman Arnold Beuke started the meeting with a summary of the past 15 years, and together the participants took stock of the current situation and worked out perspectives for the future.  

The meeting was also attended by representatives of museums from Spa, Bad Ems, Bad Kissingen and Baden-Baden, thus four of the eleven "Great Spas of Europe" that had recently been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They reported on the reactions and on the first steps of a future World Heritage policy in their spas.

Christian Noack gave a short presentation on recent developments in the European Spa project. Further short reports from different spas followed. The main theme of this year's conference was "Come to stay?! Spas and their attractiveness for a permanent stay - effects on social structure and building culture". There were four contributions to this: The first dealt with the question of who settled in Bad Pyrmont and for what reasons, the second illuminated Salzuflen around 1900 in the mirror of official medical reports, the third dealt with baths for the poor, and the fourth gave case studies of people who settled in Bad Salzuflen. 

A focus museum project of the working group is currently being carried out in Bad Sassendorf. It deals with children's cures since 1945, which have been the subject of increased critical discussion in the media in recent years because those affected have publicly reported mistreatment and even abuses during their children's cures. From the lecture on the topic, it became clear how difficult it is for the museum project to deal with the topic of children's cures appropriately, to include the critical perspective of the former cure children without disregarding the perspective of the sanatoriums and their employees. Janette Metz from the Salzwelten Museum in Bad Sassendorf kindly agreed to report about the project in our online seminar series in the spring of 2022.

The day before, the conference participants were given a guided tour of Bad Salzuflen's newly designed kurpark, visited a graduation tower and the newly renovated huge pump room, which hosts, among other things, the recently opened museum of urban history. In only four small rooms, it offers a very successful overview of the history of salt extraction and, since the 1880s, of the spa town of Bad Salzuflen, whose remedy is brine. 

Christian Noack and Wiebke Kolbe were impressed by the extensive detailed knowledge of the conference participants, who are all proven experts on their respective spa history. 


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