Adolf Bastian
Commemorating the centenary of his death

26.02.2005 to 29.05.2005

Adolf Bastian, the founder of modern ethnology in Germany, was also founding director of the Royal Ethnological Museum opened in 1886.

Pursuing his original career as a surgeon, Bastian left for his first journey around the world in 1850; he was then 24 years old. This journey lasted eight years, and converted him into a life-long traveller. His ninth journey, to the Caribbean, at the age of 77, was his last, and he died on 3 February 1905 in Port of Spain, on the island of Trinidad.

Bastian wrote many books about his travels, and tried to sum up his experiences in a comprehensive science of the human being. He was particularly interested in people of the oral cultures, the so-called 'primitive people' whom he saw as doomed by the expansion of European power and influence.

His aim was to conserve as many material testimonies of those cultures as possible, and he sent expeditions around the world in an endeavour to create a comprehensive archive in Berlin of the world cultures. He also taught ethnology at the Berlin University and together with Rudolf Virchow founded the 'Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and prehistory'.

In addition to this exhibition, the Ethnological Museum is honouring Bastian with a symposium which will bring scholars from all over the world to Berlin from 25 - 27 February 2005.