The Hoffman Collection: An Update

By Lisa Bechtold

In June of 2009, intern Nina Rao introduced the Hoffman Collection, thirty-one 8mm home videos of a DDR family spanning from 1939 to 1969. Now, 2 years later, we have the opportunity to revisit the collection in lieu of an exciting new project.

The Wende Museum is very pleased to be working on a book with TASCHEN Publication. The 800 page book will explore the cultural artifacts of extinct East Germany through images and scholarship. The selection process is underway and sifting through the museum’s 60,000 unique objects is no small feat. The book aims to present more than a scope of the museum’s collection. As Chair Wayne Ratkovich said, “It will provide a unique view of life behind the Iron Curtain.”

Hoffman still

The Hoffman Collection does just that. The videos capture family dynamics, customs, and travel, adding another dimension to our understanding of the time. Because of their uniqueness and value, we are considering how we can integrate the videos into the project through an audio-visual component.

Hoffman still

Since Nina first blogged about the collection, we have not had the opportunity to transfer the videos. Serendipitously, this summer at the MOCA, the Levi’s Film Workshop opened in conjunction with the exhibit Art in The Streets. It is a temporary, free, do-it-yourself workshop that provides the equipment to make, edit, and transfer all different types of film.

Levi's Workshop

I have been in a few times to transfer the Hoffman videos and am nearly done. It has been an amazing experience. Not only are the people who work there helpful and supportive, the public has taken interest too. There is a constant stream of people coming in and out of the workshop, not necessarily to use the facilities but rather to see what is going on. Many of them are captured by the beautiful and nostalgic moments they see on the screen. Witnessing all the interest reminds me of why we are doing this— to share this rarely seen footage.

Hoffman still

We must thank Levi’s and MOCA for coming together to offer this rare opportunity and to TASCHEN for being the catalyst in the revival of the Hoffman Collection. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Taschen project and the other collections that the book will bring to life!

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