Collections from Colonial Contexts

Germany is facing up to its historical responsibility in dealing with collection items from colonial contexts.  The precondition for the responsible handling of collections from colonial contexts and the related processing of history is the greatest possible degree of transparency, because transparency facilitates global ownership.

The portal Collections from Colonial Contexts (Sammlungsgut aus kolonialen Kontexten”) makes already digitised and indexed collectionsfrom colonial contexts available online within the existing portal of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB – German Digital Library). For this purpose, data from 25 pilot institutions were integrated into the DDB and made searchable via a separate user interface. For now, the portal will be available in  German and English, although most descriptions are initially only available in German. In the future, the portal and the descriptions will also be available in other languages.

The portal is the first, prototypical step on the way to a comprehensive and central digital publication of information on collections from colonial contexts in German cultural and knowledge institutions. In a subsequent step, relevant data that is already included in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek will be designated as “collections from colonial context”, making this data likewise retrievable via the portal in future. By mid 2024, the independent portal for collectionss from colonial contexts is to be established, made available permanently and designed to grow. 

The portal aims to make collections  from colonial contexts accessible in its entire range. The “Guidelines for the Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts” (“Leitfaden zum Umgang mit Sammlungsgut aus kolonialen Kontexten) of the German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund) makes it clear, that that the full range of historical and local acquisition and negotiation processes as well as the the contexts resulting from this and the scope for action must be taken into account when defining colonial contexts. The term “colonial contexts” is not automatically to be associated with contexts of injustice.