The contribution “Das Kulturerbe Benins auf dem Prüfstand der Zeit” by Claudia Jürgens & Barpougouni Mardjoua is currently being translated. Please check back in a few days.
by Larissa Förster
The colonial legacies of German museums have been discussed intensely over the past few years – also in this blog.
In September 2016 the German Museums Association established a working group that is looking into the issue of “collections from colonial contexts” and developing guidelines for the care of such collections.
In May 2018 the working group published a first draft of the guidelines.
See for the German version:
See for the English version:
In a multi-step process the draft will be discussed with experts and stakeholders and revised accordingly. As a first step, an internal workshop will be held with experts from the countries where collections originated (Hamburg, October 29-30, 2018). A second and revised version of the guidelines will be published in spring 2019.
Since its release, the draft guidelines can also be reviewed online – by whoever takes an interest and would like to make a comment. To submit your comment or review (in German or English) please e-mail to: email@example.com or use the comment section of this blog!
All comments received until December 1, 2018, will be read, forwarded to the members of the working group and discussed.
The working group on behalf of the Board of the German Museums Association is chaired by Wiebke Ahrndt. Its members are Hans-Jörg Czech, Jonathan Fine, Larissa Förster, Michael Geißdorf, Matthias Glaubrecht, Katarina Horst, Melanie Kölling, Silke Reuther, Anja Schaluschke, Carola Thielecke, Hilke Thode-Arora, Anne Wesche, Jürgen Zimmerer. Veit Didczuneit and Christoph Grunenberg contributed to the “Guidelines” as external authors.
As a member of the working group I look forward to a lively discussion – this is what is needed in order to explore ways of dealing meaningfully with colonial legacies in German museums!
Larissa Förster is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and member of the editorial board of “Wie weiter mit Humboldts Erbe?”.
Aquí leen la versión en castellano
by Ingrid Kummels
The news of the devastating fire at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro calls to mind the following aspect of museums of a similar immense size: In keeping with their claim of representing the nation and the wealth of its cultural heritage, they have amassed large quantities of artefacts that have been collected for them all around the world. Over time, these objects have been predominantly stored in the depots of these prestigious buildings. But this very concentration is what makes this cultural heritage vulnerable to the catastrophe of a fire. Even though the many objects in their storerooms are being conserved and some of them are being investigated – for the depot is “the continually throbbing heart of a museum”  – these stored objects lack an “exhibition status”, and thus have no public impact. The tedious task of preserving them in the depot lurks in the shadows. The depots contain, in addition, hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of cultural assets that have never been put to any scholarly use during their decades and centuries there. In this way, they are withheld from world knowledge.