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Neighbourhood institution lives on: Bonn kiosk moving to open-air museum

Neighbourhood institution lives on : Bonn kiosk moving to open-air museum

Helga Karsten’s popular kiosk on Colmanstrasse is set to join the 'Rhineland Market-Place' at the Kommern open-air museum in the Eifel.

A daily newspaper, a little snack, some cigarettes and a few friendly words in the early morning: Many local residents from the Weststadt or Musikerviertel used to stop off at the quaint kiosk on the junction of Meckenheimer Allee, Colmantstraße and Quantiusstraße on their way to work or the train station. The colourful kiosk which became a neighbourhood institution was run by Helga Karsten for over 40 years. But it is now permanently closed following her sudden death at the end of May. Every now and then someone comes to lay flowers in front of it.

However, the blue hut is not going to be dismantled and scrapped. On the contrary, the kiosk will soon be reinstated at the Freilichtmuseum in Kommern. It will be set up on the Rhineland Market-Place next to the Milchbar from Brühl.

“We are very pleased to have the kiosk joining us,” says museum director Josef Mangold. Here there is also a car from the 1970s that comes from the same workshop as the most famous sausage stand in the Rhineland, which millions of TV viewers know from the Cologne Tatort series. As soon as a case was solved, the Commissioners Ballauf (Klaus J. Behrendt) and Schenk (Dietmar Bär) always enjoyed a curry sausage and a Kölsch with a view of the cathedral. This historic sausage stand can already be visited at the open-air museum in the Eifel. “And the kiosk fits in wonderfully,” says Mangold.

In the next few days, the museum will have the kiosk collected and transported to the Eifel. “I'm glad that my aunt’s little shop is going to the museum and not just being scrapped,” says Herbert Conzen, Helga Karsten’s nephew. After all, it is a piece of Bonn's history. “And you don't just destroy something like that,” he adds.

After the sudden death of Helga Karsten, however, things had to move fast. “We had to decide quickly what to do. We are really relieved that Kommern was enthusiastic about the kiosk,” says the nephew. He has already concluded a takeover agreement with the museum.

As soon as the Bonn jewel arrives in the Eifel, it will firstly be documented in the museum depot and examined by the curators. “But we already know that the kiosk will fit perfectly into our Rhineland Marktplatz,” says Mangold. “This is really a great post-war document from the region.”

Helga Karsten’s sudden death in May caused great sadness in the neighbourhood. For days, residents brought flowers, and some said goodbye by preparing a written obituary which they stuck on the closed shop. “She was a plant of the city, grown together with this neighbourhood behind the station. She was simply always there for us. Even if we often didn’t notice it at all, or only out of the corner of our eyes, in passing,” the typewritten text reads. And others: “I have to go to Helga’s to buy the paper,” we always used to say. We are saddened and will miss her forever”.

It is not yet clear whether chocolate, sweets or chewing gum will also be on sale at the kiosk in the open-air museum in the future. “Of course, it is nicer when such an exhibit is used and comes alive again,” explains the museum director. “But it hasn’t been decided yet.” Because the precious piece first has to arrive intact at the museum.

Helga Karsten's kiosk behind Bonn station will come to life one more time before the move. On Saturday, 14 August, the Conzen family is inviting residents and regular customers to come and say goodbye. The shop will be open from 10 am to 4 pm. This time there is nothing for sale.

(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel, Translation: Caroline Kusch)