Ethnologisches Museum and Zentralarchiv Mourn the Loss of Fashion Designer Cynthia Schimming

Ethnologisches Museum

Gone But Never Forgotten: Fashion designer Cynthia Schimming has passed away. Cynthia Schimming was an exceptional fashion designer and artist and a wonderful human being. Her optimistic approach to life and her positive energy were invigorating. It was an honour to be able to welcome her in Berlin and support her research into the historical collections from Namibia at the Ethnologisches Museum.

Cynthia’s generous sharing of knowledge was key in making the collaborative research and exhibition project “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures” a success. Her artwork “No Title” for the project’s exhibition at the Humboldt Forum has become a landmark in critically reflecting colonial pasts and envisioning a self-determined decolonial future. With the statement “My Philosophy versus Your Interpretation” (that she added to her artwork) she challenged us to question our own methodologies and open up to new ways of reflection and collaboration. Through her work we understood that objects are never only “historical”, but that they have roles to play in the present and the future.

In Germany, visitors and press alike have celebrated Cynthia Schimming for her important contributions to Namibian-German understanding and, more broadly, to Namibian fashion and design. Her work and life will remain an inspiration to all of us.

The Ethnologische Museum and the Zentralarchiv of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin deeply regret the loss of this special person and their thoughts are with her family and loved ones.

  • Julia Binter (Provenance researcher and Co-lead of the collaborative research project “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures”, Zentralarchiv/Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
  • Jonathan Fine (formerly Head, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Director, Weltmuseum Wien)
  • Larissa Förster (Head of the Department for Cultural Goods and Collections from Colonial Contexts, German Lost Art Foundation, and academic advisor to the project)
  • Lars-Christian Koch (Director, Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
  • Hermann Parzinger (President, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz)