The museum was set up over a five year period and celebrated its opening on July 8th 2000. Its permanent exhibition displays the history of the Danube Swabians from their beginnings in the 17th century up to the present day. The guiding principle in conceptualising the exhibition was to embed the history of the Danube Swabians into the geographical and historical context of South-Eastern Europe. In 13 rooms, each representing a different topic, the museum offers a historical tour through the most important stages in the story of the Danube Swabians: From their emigration to Hungary, through life and coexistence in villages and towns and up to the political changes of the 20th century.
The Danube Swabian Museum is run by the foundation of the same name, which itself is supported by the City of Ulm, the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, the Federal Republic of Germany and the four Danube Swabian “Homeland Associations” (Landsmannschaften). It is the only museum in Germany that presents a comprehensive history of the Danube Swabians on an academic basis. Public funding for the museum stems from the “Law on the affairs of the expellees and refugees”, i.e. the German “Federal Law on Refugees and Exiles” (BVFG). This law determines that Germany’s Federal Government and Federal States should preserve the cultural assets of the territories from which ethnic Germans were expelled, not only in the consciousness of those who were expelled or fled themselves, but also amongst all German people and on an international level.
Since opening, the museum has actively involved itself in the museum scene of Germany and South-Eastern Europe and has carried out a number of projects with partner institutions. The museum has formal partnerships with museums in Satu Mare/Sathmar, Arad, Timişoara/Temeswar and Reşiţa/ Reschitza (all in Romania), in Novi Sad (Serbia) and in Pécs (Hungary). The museum’s work complements that of the many Danube Swabian “Heimatstuben” (small ethnographic museums, which are mostly run by hometown associations) in dedicating itself to all areas of Danube Swabian settlement between Budapest and Belgrade.
The museum now has a collection of over 45,000 items, only a small selection of which is displayed in the permanent exhibition. The collection, which is expanding continuously, serves as a material “time capsule” for Danube Swabian culture and history. Alongside the permanent exhibition, the museum displays three to six temporary exhibitions on a variety of themes on an annual basis. These are primarily historical or cultural-historical exhibitions, sometimes organised in conjunction with the museum’s partners in South-Eastern Europe. Occasionally art exhibitions are also organised. The museum also functions as a space for events such as book readings, presentations and seminars and as a “meeting point”, for example in Café Budapest on International Museum Day.