Why there is no photo gallery for the
Haus der Geschichte, Bonn
As I had also done with scores of other institutions (who overwhelmingly had no problem with it whatsoever) I had contacted the Haus der Geschichte
(HdG) museum and asked if any of the photos I had put in the gallery accompanying the entry for it were a problem. The main reason I had in mind was the potential issue of copyright in images in which other images are visible that may have third-party copyright restrictions (which is often difficult to predict... this had happened in a few other cases where I then had to remove an individual photo or two from the gallery; see also this general page about photos on this site
But in this case what came back was drastic: the reply, from the museum's press department, was that they did not want any of the photos on my site because they deemed any association of the museum with "the phenomenon of 'dark tourism' extremely problematic", and that after an allegedly "thorough examination" of my site.
I found the latter rather hard to believe, though, as that should have led them to this page
(linked from within the first few lines of the start page – so not exactly hidden) or the first entry in the FAQ
... or the various elaborations of what the concept of dark tourism
really is. So I responded by not only pointing them to all these pages but also elaborated further on the potential misunderstanding of dark tourism and the inadequacy of some of the negative press that the notion of dark tourism was given in the media on several occasions, which I suspected to be behind all this hostile attitude towards the "phenomenon" of dark tourism (the use of that word "phenomenon" is a telltale sign).
Furthermore, I explained that admittedly it isn't so uncommon for a first encounter with the notion of "dark + tourism" to elicit some puzzled or even appalled gut reaction, but that on closer inspection there really isn't anything "morally" or "ethically" wrong with dark tourism, once you understand what it really is – namely for the most part, quite innocently, contemporary heritage tourism
. Universally the experience (also amongst the academics who originally coined the "provocative" term 'dark tourism' and have been researching the "phenomenon" for the last decade or two) is that once you clarify all this soberly and with a few good examples, the initial negative gut reaction quickly dissolves and turns into intrigued interest.
Not so in this case. The HdG remained insistent. A week later they responded in almost the same way as the first time around, simply stating in a two-liner that after "reassessing" my request they maintained their initial position. No reasoning. No acknowledgement or even reference to any of my explanations and arguments, no indication they had even taken any of them in. (Did they even read them? I cannot tell.) Left without any real explanation, I can only speculate, of course, but I fear the underlying reason for this stubbornly negative stance may indeed most likely be due to the unhelpful influence of some of the negative "moral panic" misrepresentations of dark tourism in the media. It's just very sad that the HdG refused to engage in any reasoning. But of course I had to take the photo gallery out as demanded.
Given that this is so unusual I thought I owed my readers an explanation as to why there aren't any pictures in this case. Now you know.