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For over 20 years - Dialoghaus Social Enterprise

For more than 20 years, the numerous visitors to the Dialoghaus exhibitions in the Speicherstadt have proven how important the topics of empathy, inclusion and accessibility are for today’s societies.

Since opening in April 2000, Dialoghaus has welcomed over 1.7 million people. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors attend the exhibitions Dialogue in the Dark, Dialogue in Silence, or temporary exhibitions such as Dialogue with Time or the Dialog Lab.

“Mittendrin” is the name of the new exhibition in the Dialog Lab at Dialoghaus. Visitors of all ages and especially educational institutions are invited to join in the thinking and contribute their ideas. Even though inclusion seems to be firmly anchored in society by now, the question “Who does inclusion affect?” is more burning than ever today and more important to many more people than it seems.

The new Dialog Lab is made possible with the help of funding from the Deutsche Fernsehlotterie. Over the next three years, the new Dialog Lab will present temporary exhibits and workshops with a focus on inclusion and accessibility in an exhibition space of 150 square meters.

Dialoghaus Hamburg is a social enterprise and a non-profit gGmbH. It currently employs about 60 people. Before the Corona years, there were over 100. 60 percent of the employees are deaf or visually impaired. All employees, whether with or without disabilities, make an active contribution to an inclusive society. Indirectly, our visitors also contribute to the participation of people with disabilities in society. They enable us to offer income and recognition to people who are still often denied this basic right due to prejudice and exclusion.

Empathy and unprejudiced interaction with one another without moralizing is the content and purpose of our business model. Social sustainability is the yardstick of our success. Economic action and economic stability therefore serve solely the long-term development and future viability of the company and its employees. 

What makes Dialog experiences stand out

Dialog experiences, exhibitions and workshops for companies are platforms for dialog and a meeting with the other. The stations of a dialogue exhibition provide a new and unusual perspective. You experience something new through a role reversal and an encounter with something completely unexpected.

The encounter on unfamiliar terrain with other, possibly unknown visitors who experience similar things, and the obvious competence of the guide of the exhibition, who also does not correspond to your brought along ideas, causes a dialogue and a confrontation with your own prejudices.

Something unexpected happens, you learn something new through experiential learning. This is understood as an emotional, lasting experience that is remembered for a long time. Your next encounter with someone who hears or sees restricted, on the subway or on the street, may be different. The discussion in class about how to treat each other and society will certainly be different.

Abendansicht Dialoghaus Hamburg mit Montiertem Logo als Banner auf der Hauswand

Dialoghaus Mission & Vision

Prejudices and barriers are mainly in people’s heads. We run our exhibitions and workshops to overcome these barriers.

Our mission is to overcome exclusion and reduce fear of contact. We want to make people think. For more inclusion and more empathy for blind, deaf and elderly people. Despite many positive changes on the political level, participation in public life or inclusive education, many people still do not have the same opportunities to lead a self-determined life.

The ultimate goal of Dialogue Experiences is to close the gaps between different groups in our society. We provide a platform for debate, encountering the unfamiliar, dialogue, understanding the beauty of diversity and the need for inclusion. These values are offered without a moral address or a directive. Visitors do not need a theoretical background. The public is given space for transformation, for living an emotional experience in a real exchange with other people and, most importantly, with joy.

Facts & Figures
A sustainable Success

Andreas Heinecke is one of the first and certainly one of the most successful German social entrepreneurs. While working for Südwestfunk in 1988, he introduces a blind colleague to the daily editorial routine. From the very first second, the expected helper-victim situation turned into an encounter with reversed roles. The effect was so lasting that Andreas Heinecke experimented with an experience for the non-blind in complete darkness. The result was the exhibition Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark), in which blind exhibition guides give visitors a change of perspective.

In 1989, the first Dialog im Dunkeln experience and exhibition was thus presented in Frankfurt. Since then, there have been exhibitions and workshops in cooperation with local partners worldwide. Millions of people visit the Dialog exhibitions and experience tolerance and empathy for the “view” of others through their own perception. 

Andreas Heinecke has received several awards for his work. Among other things, he has been the first “Ashoka Fellow” in Europe since 2005; he is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and a Global Fellow of the Schwab Foundation. Dr. Andreas Heinecke studied history and literature and holds a PhD in philosophy. In 2008, Andreas Heinecke established Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH as an umbrella for all Dialogue concepts and as a consulting firm for the worldwide exhibitions and workshops.

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