Museum

GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig

GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig
Address:
Johannisplatz 5-11
04103 Leipzig

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The Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen, SES (State Ethnographic Collections of Saxony) consist of the three ethnological museums in Leipzig, Dresden and Herrnhut. The three museums form part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) and hold around 350,000 objects, 200,000 pictorial documents and 350,000 library units at the three locations. This makes the SES the second largest ethnological collection in Germany. Its most important tasks include researching the collections, especially with regard to their contexts of origin and acquisition circumstances, digitising the collection and elaborating new exhibition focal points. These tasks are carried out in cooperation with international partners. An example of the new orientation of the SES is the REINVENTING.GRASSI.SKD future programme in Leipzig, which is funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation) in the course of the Initiative für ethnologische Sammlungen (Initiative for Ethnological Collections). In several sub-projects, the museum with its current permanent exhibition will be transformed into a network museum until 2023, which reflects on its own history and provides impulses for current and future-relevant questions in thematically structured exhibition areas.

The SES position themselves actively in the context of international debates around the colonial history of ethnological museums as well as questions of restitution and repatriation. Therefore, the SES aim to create transparency about their collections and to engage in researching their provenance, wherever possible in the framework of international collaborative projects. Dealing with the history of the objects' origins, the genesis of the collection and the history of the institution is a top priority. As an example, a current provenance research project, funded by the Deutsche Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste (German Centre for the Loss of Cultural Property), is investigating colonial-era collections from Togo. The SES also hold one of the largest collections from the former Kingdom of Benin in present-day Nigeria. The 263 objects that can be viewed online here largely date back to the violent conquest and looting of the royal palace by British soldiers in 1897. These so-called Benin bronzes have become a symbol of colonial seizure. The SES have co-signed the Erklärung zum Umgang mit den Benin-Bronzen in deutschen Museen (Declaration on the Handling of Benin Bronzes in German Museums) of 29 April 2021.

You can find out more about the approaches of the three SES museums on the internet platforms „Decolonize“ Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig: Dekolonisierung, Restitution und Repatriierung (skd.museum) and SKD: Provenienzforschung.

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