Since its opening in April 2000, the Dialoghaus has welcomed over 1.7 million people. Every year, over 100,000 visitors visit the exhibitions Dialogue in the Dark, Dialogue in Silence and Dialogue with Time. Dialogue exhibitions are also offered worldwide. More than eight million people in 38 countries and 170 cities have experienced Dialogue in the Dark, Dialogue in Silence or Dialogue with Time. This remarkable success is also reflected in the balance sheet of our employees: 8,000 visually impaired, blind or deaf people find jobs worldwide.
Exhibitions and workshops for more empathy and inclusion
The Dialogue exhibitions are based on a methodology and logic of impact. The aim is to open up a personal emotional experience for the visitors and to enable an authentic encounter with people who are experts in their own field. We create the emotion through immersion. The experience of total darkness in dialogue in the dark or the confrontation of silence in dialogue in silence. In the dark, blind people can “see”, while the visitors* are “blind” for a certain time. In silence deaf people can communicate, while the hearing audience learns to express themselves non-verbally. Older people get in contact with the younger generation and prove through their personality which values arise in a late phase of life.
This role reversal leads to a change of perspective. It also leads to a change in the way people with and without disabilities, younger and older people interact. In summary we say:
- The human being is at the centre. Dialogue is the programme.
- The mediation is done by people with different backgrounds
- The exhibition is a platform for encounter.
- The exhibition conveys true life stories. Everything is real and not constructed.
- The learning aims at breaking up thought patterns and clichés.
- The transfer of knowledge is in the background.
- In the foreground stands a change in behaviour.
The social enterprise
The Dialoghaus in Hamburg employs around 100 people. Of these, 60 percent 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 social life. They enable us to offer income and recognition to people who are still frequently denied this basic right due to prejudice and exclusion.
Empathy and an unprejudiced way of dealing with each other without moralising “raised forefinger” is the content and purpose of our business model. Social sustainability is the measure of our success. Economic activity and economic stability therefore only serve the long-term development and sustainability of the company and its employees.
Dialoghaus Hamburg gGmbH is acknowledged as a non-profit organisation since 2016.
A Story of Conviction, Persistence and Success
Andreas Heinecke is one of the first and certainly one of the most successful German social entrepreneurs.
During his work for the broadcast station Südwestfunk in 1988, he introduced a blind colleague to the editorial workaday routine. From the very first second, the expected helper-victim situation turned into an encounter with swapped roles. The effect was so lasting that Andreas Heinecke experimented with an experience for non-blind people in complete darkness. The result was the exhibition Dialogue in the Dark, in which blind exhibition guides convey a change of perspective to the visitor.
In 1989 Dialogue in the Dark was presented for the first time in Frankfurt. Since then, there have been exhibitions and workshops in cooperation with local partners worldwide. Millions of people visit Dialogue in the Dark and experience tolerance and empathy for the “sight” of the other from their own perception. Since 1997, the exhibition Dialogue in Silence has also contributed to this. Dialogue with Time was first shown in 2014/2015 and 2016 in Frankfurt, Berlin and Bern. From 2018 until 2020, the exhibition was offered at Dialoghaus Hamburg. For 2021, new dialogue experiences are planned.
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 Global Fellow of the Schwab Foundation. Dr. Andreas Heinecke studied history and literature and holds a doctorate in philosophy. Since 2011 he is Professor for Social Business at the European Business School.
In 2008, Andreas Heinecke established Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH as the umbrella for all dialogue concepts and as a consulting company for the worldwide exhibitions and workshops.