Are you poor or are you rich? The exhibition Poor Luxembourg? gives you insights into the various dimensions of poverty in Luxembourg and the world, from the time when the “Social Question” has been raised around 1850 until today. Extreme poverty is more of a distant phenomenon for us Europeans, one that we locate in the developing countries above all. But with the worldwide financial and economic crisis the fear of social decline has risen even in “secure” European states like Luxembourg.

Accordingly, the Luxembourg City History Museum aims to critically present the criteria for assessing and defining poverty and offers a historical overview of this complex topic.

The show includes five thematic areas. The exhibition begins by uncovering poverty and social exclusion as they exist today behind the “rich facade” of Luxembourg. The visitor is then confronted with the phenomenon of poverty from 1850 (the industrialization period) to the Second World War. Afterwards the exhibition addresses society’s changing view of poverty and marginality, between scandalisation and stigmatisation. Our reproduction of a “Laterna magica” theatre and the projection of previously quite inaccessible film material brings the epoch of social journalism popular around 1890 back to life on the screen. The fourth area deals with the reactions to poverty and the counter-measures. In the tension between state action and private initiative the question of whether the European model of the welfare state has become outdated is raised. The exhibition also looks at migration, which has a close relation to poverty then and now. In addition we ask whether Luxembourg’s characteristic discourse of national legitimation, “from a poor province to a rich nation”, is still tenable. The close of the exhibition challenges the visitors to situate themselves personally between “poor” and “rich” and raises questions about satisfaction criteria that lay beyond money and consumption.

A catalogue accompanying the exhibition is published providing further in-depth information about the subjects presented.


28 May > 29 April 2012