Der „erste deutsche Elefant“: eine Geschichte der Extraktion
Nicht nur ethnologische, medizinhistorische und geographische Logiken des „Sammelns“ unter kolonialen Bedingungen werden gegenwärtig neu untersucht und in ihrer scheinbaren „Normalität“ dezentriert. Auch die Sammlungen von Naturkundemuseen, Tierparks und Zoos werden kritisch befragt. Im folgenden Beitrags wird die Geschichte eines Elefanten aus der damaligen deutschen Kolonie Kamerun skizziert, der auf Bestellung des damaligen Zoo-Direktors Ludwig […]
Iconoclash in the GRASSI Museum
Seeking publicity for an international museum crisis by way of a damaged pedestal
The current debate surrounding colonial collections has unleashed a veritable feud in and around ethnological museums, which pits reformers and preservationists against one another, seemingly irreconcilably. In feuilletons, newsletters, and mailing lists, voices are growing ever shriller, and the means employed ever harsher, as peers and colleagues attack each another and seek to mobilize audiences […]
Ringen um Rückgabe
Frühe Forderungen der Maori nach Restitution und Repatriierung, 1945-1947
Currently, this contribution exists only in the German version, translation under way.
The Puzzle of the Postcolonial Purse
Handbags outside of the Western canon
Since the writing of this piece, the Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses has sadly been forced to close due to financial pressures exacerbated by the current crisis. This is a difficult time for all heritage organisations, and smaller institutions are always the most at risk. The closing of the Museum of Bags and Purses […]
We talk, you listen!
Currently, this contribution exists only in German, translation to follow. Francis La Flesche, 1857-1932. This photograph is available courtesy of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution (Photograph 4504).
The Ethics of Repatriation and Working Collaboratively in Aotearoa New Zealand
The return of human remains back to descendant communities and countries of origin is a growing and developing part of museology throughout the world. Fifty years ago returning human remains or even cultural objects was almost unheard of. But in 2019 the return of ancestral remains and objects is increasingly becoming the norm. In Aotearoa […]
Towards a Renewed Concept of ‘Museum’ in Europe and Africa
What options do we have for dealing with the Africa collections in our museums in Europe and in Africa? Let us start with a quote from Malcolm McLeod, keeper of the Department of Ethnography of the British Museum from 1974-1990: Museums are expected to collect things, yet museum collecting, in some cultures, need not be […]
The Fundamental Problem of Ethnography and Colonialism
Some thoughts on two exhibitions in Berlin’s House of World Cultures
Through 6 January 2020 in the House of World Cultures in Berlin, one can still visit two exhibitions that have several things in common. The first is not unusual, but rather everyday museum practice. Both exhibitions are devoted to the work of dead, white, German men. “Spectral White: The Appearance of Colonial-Era Europeans” deals with […]
Colonial Collectors and their Legacy
Why Asking “Why?” Matters
At the time of writing, the conference Museum Collections in Motion lies only weeks in the past and its impacts, its questions and discussions still move me. For all its moments of connection and shared ideals, it was not a harmonious conference. Especially in the beginning, it seemed like mistrust could win over and end […]
The Brachiosaurus brancai in the Natural History Museum Berlin
A Star Exhibit of Natural History as a German and Tanzanian Realm of Memory?
This contribution deals with the area of natural history, a field which to date has remained outside the focus of the research and debates surrounding looted art and the theft of cultural assets and has scarcely featured as a topic in the history of remembrance. The focus here is on a scientific object, the skeleton […]