Data Providers

The institutions listed below have provided access to collection items from colonial contexts via this portal. If you have questions about their holdings or about particular collection items, please contact the institution in question.

  • Organization
    Museum
    Number of objects: 286

    The BASA Museum of the Department for the Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn holds more than 10,000 objects, the majority of which are from the Americas. A smaller part of the collection also includes objects from Africa, Asia and Oceania. The collection focuses on archaeological objects from the Andean region and Mesoamerica as well as ethnographic objects from the Amazon region and the Andean highlands. The provenances of these objects lie outside of formal colonial rule (case group 2) as defined by the German Museums Association (DMB) guidelines for handling of collection items from colonial contexts. Determining the quantity and value of objects from colonial contexts is only possible through provenance research.

    In the WissKI database, used by the BASA Museum since late 2019, around 950 objects are currently publicly accessible. The long-term objective is to gradually make the entire collection accessible through the database.

    Currently accessible objects mainly include those from the Trimborn and Oberem collections from Central and South America. Hermann Trimborn founded the Department of Ethnology and the Ethnological Teaching and Study Collection at the University of Bonn in 1948, thereafter acting as director of both. Udo Oberem was Trimborn's student and successor. The objects from both collections were transferred to the Teaching and Study Collection in the 1950s and 1960s. They originate predominantly from the Andean highlands and Costa Rica and include a roughly equal number of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts acquired on research trips.

    The information on objects from the Trimborn and Oberem collections in the database is taken from the respective inventory book and index cards. The latter were created retrospectively for individual artifacts with the help of student assistants from the 1970s onwards. The provided information may therefore not be up-to-date with the current state of research. The research database will be updated with new findings about the objects from ongoing and future projects conducted by students and researchers as well as from collaborative research with members of the societies of origin.

  • Organization

    digiCULT-Verbund eG

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    Museum
    Number of objects: 823
  • Organization

    Ethnographische Sammlung

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    Research
    Number of objects: 6

    Philipps University of Marburg’s Ethnographic Collection, established in the 1920s, includes objects from the Wiesbaden Collection of Nassau Antiquities, which sold its non-European collections in the 1960s. These are predominantly objects from the 19th century that colonial civil servants and officers gifted to the Wiesbaden Museum. The Ethnographic Collection also includes the scientific collections of Theodor Koch-Grünberg (1872-1924), a scholar who studied South America. Between 800 and 1,000 objects are presumed to have originated from formal colonies, while another 2500 potentially originated from colonial contexts outside formal colonial rule. Together with the Ethnographic Collection of the Oberhessisches Museum (Museum of Upper Hesse) in Gießen, UMR’s Ethnographic Collection is currently investigating the colonial origins of some of its sub-collections thanks to funding from the German Lost Art Foundation. One objective of the research project is to reconstruct the biographies of around 60 objects from the East African region (particularly Tanzania) and Cameroon.

  • Organization
    Research
    Number of objects: 34

    The Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen is one of the most important teaching and research collections in the German-speaking world. Its beginnings date back to the time of the Enlightenment.

    The history of the Ethnographic Collection began 1773 with the establishment of the Academic Museum at Göttingen University. Thanks to the initiative of the professor of medicine Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, cultural artefacts from the South Seas ("Cook/Forster Collection") and the Arctic polar region ("Baron von Asch Collection") were brought to Göttingen in the second half of the 18th century. After Blumenbach's death in 1840, the collection was initially cared for by scholars from other disciplines. In 1928, anthropological teaching began in Göttingen with the available objects.

    At present, the collection comprises of about 18,000 objects from all continents. Furthermore, graphics and paintings, archival materials, photographs as well as hands-on objects of museum education are part of its inventory. As part of digitization measures, the collection has been increasingly viewable in the online collection portal of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Holdings from colonial contexts are also included in the database of the Lower Saxony provenance research project PAESE. The analog inventory catalogs are available for download as .pdf files.

    The objects preserved here are explored in research projects under a variety of questions. They are used in seminars for the education of students. In addition, the collection is open to the public in the form of permanent and special exhibitions (currently: closed due to building refurbishment).

  • Organization

    Ethnologisches Museum

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    Museum
    Number of objects: 99396

    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.

  • Organization
    Research
    Number of objects: 34
  • Organization
    Museum
    Number of objects: 150

    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.

  • Organization
    Research
    Number of objects: 286
  • Organization

    Iwalewahaus, Universität Bayreuth

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    Museum
    Number of objects: 16

    The collection holdings within African studies at the University of Bayreuth are situated within various academic disciplines. As an umbrella institution consolidating all specifically African-related departments at the university, the Institute for African Studies supports their research and teaching. Thus, literary studies and linguistics are likewise linked to the research and collections of Africa Studies, as are religious studies, ethnology, art history and Bildwissenschaften, theatre, music and media studies.

    Some of the bequeathed collections comprise large quantities of travel, documentary and portrait photography from colonial contexts. The earliest photographic documentations of research trips to eastern and south-western Africa date to 1933. Other image collections comprise photographs from teaching and research activities on the territories of today’s South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe from the 1930s to 1960s. In addition to the documentary images from the holdings, the digital collection also includes portrait and studio photographs from 1910 onwards that were taken in Nairobi in what was then “British East Africa”.

    The collection at the Iwalewahaus encompasses internationally reputed objects of modern and contemporary art as well as posters, photographs and supplementary documentation materials pertaining to research and to the history of exhibitions and individual objects. As well as African countries, India, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, among other countries, are listed as regions of origin for the very wide-ranging objects in the collection.

    During the 1920s, illustrative works on paper were created in what was then the colony of the “Belgian Congo”. These are among the oldest works in the art collection. The collection also includes drawings by 12 patients at the Lantoro Mental Home in Abeokuta, Nigeria, created during the colonial area. This group of works by Abeokuta artists was created during the years 1951–52.

    The collections with a connection to Africa at the University of Bayreuth are available for digital access by degrees via Collections@UBT, supported by the team of the Research Data Management. The digital presentation will be continuously revisited and enhanced.

    You can find further information about the Institute for Africa Studies and the Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuth as well as contact information for the collection’s curators at the following websites:

  • Organization
    Research
    Number of objects: 403