Ethnologisches Museum

Ethnologisches Museum
Humboldt Forum
10178 Berlin

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The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin, which emerged from the royal Kunstkammer, has been one of the largest and most important of its kind in the world since it was founded in 1873. Its collections contain around 500,000 ethnographic, archaeological and cultural-historical objects from Africa, Asia, America and Oceania. These are supplemented by around 500,000 media (ethnographic photographs, films, videos and audio documents) and more than 588,000 pages of written material.

The Ethnologisches Museum of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin critically examines the legacy and consequences of colonialism and the role and perspective of Europe. Reflections on its own point of view and partnerships with the societies of origin in Africa, Asia, Oceania and America are intended to reveal one-sided Eurocentric views without denying the existing European references. Since September 2021, the Ethnologisches Museum has been showing its newly designed exhibitions in the Humboldt Forum in the center of Berlin.

The often complex acquisition and appropriation processes of the objects in the Ethnologisches Museum are difficult to reconstruct today. It is therefore difficult to decide whether they were produced, collected or exported in colonial contexts. Even when information is available, different people do not always come to the same conclusions. In order to facilitate the discussion about the colonial contexts of collection objects with a broader public and with partners from the regions of origin, the Ethnologisches Museum not only shows objects on this portal that undoubtedly originate from colonial contexts, but all of the museum's published object. In an effort to maximize transparency, this is intended to support the discussion about the colonial contexts of the collections. The data of the Ethnologisches Museum is continuously revised, enriched with new findings and updated twice a year in this portal.

The archive materials and the historical collection registers in the Ethnologisches Museum are of particular importance for reconstructing the historical acquisition and appropriation processes. Digital copies of the acquisition books can be viewed on the museum website. The acquisition books were digitized as part of the DFG project "Digitization of the historical archive in the Ethnological Museum - 1830-1947" . As part of the project, all collection catalogs and archive materials from the period from 1830 to 1947 currently held by the Ethnologisches Museum were digitized and made accessible online. The finding aid created as part of the project provides central access to the digitized collection. In addition, the digitized documents and their associated indexing data can be accessed via the online database of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

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