One of the most important tasks of ethnological museums today is to process their collections together with the respective societies of origin. Ethnologists of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have been working together with Namibian colleagues since the beginning of 2019 as part of a cooperation with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) in order to gain new insights into their own Namibian collection of around 1400 objects. Together with guest scholars from Namibia, the aim is to make the collection accessible, but also to research provenances from German colonial rule in Namibia (1904-1908).
In a new part of the project entitled “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures", which was made possible with the support of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, a selection of 23 objects from the collection of the Ethnological Museum is now to travel to Namibia for this purpose and be researched there in exemplary fashion until 2022.
We, Sven Stienen and Gesine Bahr, spoke with the project participants Hertha Bukassa and Golda Ha-Eiros from MAN as well as the curator of the collection Jonathan Fine and the provenance researcher Julia Binter from the Ethnological Museum.