TO BE SEEN. queer lives 19OO–195O Exhibition

Oct. 7, 2022 until May 21, 2023

About the exhibition

TO BE SEEN was an exhibition devoted to the stories of LGBTQI+ in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century. Through historical testimony and artistic positions from then and now, it traced queer lives and networks, the areas of freedom enjoyed by LGBTQI+, and the persecution they suffered.

The exhibition took an intimate look at a variety of genders, bodies, and identities. It showed how queer life became ever more visible during the 1920s, giving rise to a more open treatment of role models and of desire. During this period, homosexual, trans, and non-binary people achieved their first successes in their fight for equal rights and social acceptance. They organized, fought for scientific and legal recognition of their gender identity, and carved out their own spaces.

But as recognition and visibility in art and culture, science, politics, and society increased, so did resistance. After the Nazis came to power, the LGBTQI+ subculture was largely destroyed. After 1945, their stories and fates were scarcely archived or remembered. 


Oct. 7, 2022 until May 21, 2023

Social Media
#QueerLives | @nsdoku

Karolina Kühn (Head Curator), Juliane Bischoff, Angela Hermann, Sebastian Huber, Anna Straetmans, Ulla-Britta Vollhardt

Support and funding
Patron of the exhibition was Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture and the Media.
The exhibition was funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the
Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Scroll through history


Our online storytelling provides an insight into the exhibition TO BE SEEN and the lives of LGBTIQ* people — tracing their political struggle, social networks, and early sexology and their exclusion and persecution before, during, and after the Nazi dictatorship.  Here you can scroll through their stories!

Go to Storytelling


The accompanying publication is a collection of texts and artworks from the exhibition as well as essays by important contributors on queer lives in the past and present as seen from a scientific and social perspective. 

Find out more


A glossary explains key terms used in the exhibition. It deepens the content of the exhibition and makes clear how closely language and identity are connected. 

Download glossary


Our TO BE SEEN t-shirts (€18) are still available for purchase at the information desk in the foyer. Posters, bags, and umbrellas are already sold out.

Trailer for the exhibiton


Take a look at TO BE SEEN – with statements by our director Mirjam Zadoff, curator Karolina Kühn and artist Philipp Gufler.

To view this video, we require your consent for „YouTube".

Aritsts and Artworks

Katharina Aigner

Courtesy the artist | © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Something traced and diverging, 2022

Maximiliane Baumgartner

Untitled, from the Footnotes (Banner), 2022 | Courtesy the artist and Gallery Max Mayer

You look at us – we look at you, 2021 | Gap Texts and Ghost Grids: The Press on Sophia Goudstikker, 2022 | Looking at the Façade or The Fourth Wall of the Third Female Pedagogue III, 2021 | Untitled, from the Footnotes (Banner), 2022

Pauline Boudry und Renate Lorenz

Courtesy the artists, Galerie Marcelle Alix, Ellen de Bruijne Projects

Wall Necklace Piece (unpredictable assembly II), 2022

Claude Cahun

© Paris Musées, musée d’Art moderne

Que me veux-tu?, 1929

Zackary Drucker & Marval Rex

Courtesy Zackary Drucker & Marval Rex

A Study in Disappearing, 2022

El Palomar

Film still, 2020 | © El Palomar

Schreber is a Woman, 2020

Nicholas Grafia

Courtesy the Artist and Peres Projects (Berlin, Seoul, Milan)

Partners in Crime, since 2019 (ongoing)

Philipp Gufler

Quilt #43 (Sophia Goudstikker), 2021 | Courtesy the artist and Galerie Françoise Heitsch

Quilt #15 (Die Freundin), 2016 | Quilt #21 (Paul Hoecker), 2018 | Quilt #26 (Ludwig II), 2019 | Quilt #32 (Magnus Hirschfeld), 2020 | Quilt #37 (Elisarion), 2021 | Quilt #38 (Nino Cesarini), 2021 | Quilt #40 (Karl Heinrich Ulrichs), 2021 | Quilt #43 (Sophia Goudstikker), 2021 | Quilt #47 (Charlotte Wolff), 2022 | Quilt #50 (Lil Picard), 2022

Richard Grune

© Wien Museum

Solidarity, 1947

Lena Rosa Händle

These Hands – A Unique World, 2022 | Courtesy the artist

These Hands – A Unique World, 2022 | Girls under Trees, 2016


Paul Hoecker

Exhibition view | photo: Connolly Weber Photography

Young Man's Head / Boy's Portrait, 1901 | Pierrot, undated


Hannah Höch

© akg-images, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Untitled (Hannah Höch at her easel, The Hague; self-portrait (double exposure) with the painting Symbolic Landscape III), 1930

Nina Jirsíková

© Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück

Lágrovka v Nede˘ li (Camp Street on Sunday), 1944

Germaine Krull

© Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Les Amies (from the portfolio Nudes), 1924

Elisar von Kupffer

© Comune di Minusio – Centro Elisarion

Dove Sei? / Where Are You?, 1914/1918

Zoltán Lesi und Ricardo Portilho

In Women’s Clothing, 2019 | Courtesy the artists and Edition Mosaik Salzburg

In Women’s Clothing, 2019 | A Jump and the Lobster, 2018/2022

Herbert List

Courtesy Herbert List Estate, Hamburg / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Beachcomber, Baltic Sea, 1933

Heinz Loew

© Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

Double Portrait of Heinz Loew and Karl Hermann Trinkaus in the Studio, Bauhaus Dessau, 1927

Jeanne Mammen

Hermaphrodite, ca 1945 | © Stadtmuseum Berlin / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Damenbar, ca 1930–1932 | Siesta, ca 1930–1932 | Hermaphrodite, ca 1945

Michaela Melián

Courtesy the artist

Memory Loops, 2010/2021

Henrik Olesen

Spoon, 2008 | Collection of Wolfgang Tillmans | © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Some Illustrations to the Life of Alan Turing, 2008 | Spoon, 2008

Emil Orlik

© bpk | Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum

Claire Waldoff, ca 1930

Max Peiffer Watenphul

© Privatbesitz

Stillleben mit Mimosen, 1932

Jonathan Penca

Courtesy the artist and Deborah Schamoni

other observations (I – IV), 2022

Karol Radziszewski

Courtesy of the artist and BWA Warszawa

Antoine de Paris, 2022

Alexander Sacharoff

© Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München

Pavane Fantastique, ca 1916/17


Gertrude Sandmann

Rosa Nachthemd und schwarzer Pyjama, 1928 | © Anja Elisabeth Witte/Berlinische Galerie

Gruppe VII, 1918 | Rosa Nachthemd und schwarzer Pyjama, 1928 | Kauerndes Mädchen mit Schatten, 1940

Christian Schad

© Museen der Stadt Aschaffenburg / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Loving Boys, 1929

Renée Sintenis

© Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin

Two Standing Deer, 1948

Mikołaj Sobczak

© Private collection, Milano

Pink Triangles Against Capitalism, 2020

Wolfgang Tillmans

Courtesy Galerie Buchholz

The Cock (kiss), 2002

View into the exhibition

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography