The Goethe-Institut and the Ethnologisches Museum Initiate a Conservation Department at the Museu Nacional de Antropologia in Angola

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

The Goethe-Institut, supported by the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum), is striving to preserve acutely endangered objects in the worldwide unparalleled collection at the Museu Nacional de Antropologia in Luanda (Angola, National Museum of Anthropology). In addition to a training programme for conservators, a conservation department in Angola has just been established, taking up its work on 1 October 2020.

With over 6,000 objects, the National Museum of Anthropology in Luanda is considered to have the world’s most comprehensive ethnological collection relating to Angola. It consists of everyday objects as well as art and religious ones from all of the country’s ethno-linguistic groups and contains aesthetically exceptional pieces absent from comparable collections. These objects include 18th and 19th century directories of enslaved people that are of unique historiographic significance far beyond Angola.

Training Conservators is the Focus of the Project

Key to the project are longer, on-site visits in Angola by an experienced professional conservator-restorer from Germany. During each of these stays the visiting expert will train two employees from the museum in Luanda as well as personnel from other Angolan institutions or graduates from Angolan universities. Part of the training will include six-week residencies in the Ethnologisches Museum’s Conservation Department and return visits by Berlin colleagues to the Museum of Anthropology in Luanda.

Establishing a Database and Cataloguing the Collection

Necessary working materials will be acquired and a database established that is to form the basis for further cataloguing the collection and documenting scholarly research into the objects’ biographies. The database, which will be developed in close cooperation with the Ethnologisches Museum, is intended to facilitate the exchange and sharing of both museums’ object lists and databases as well as simplify their mutual work.

Establishing a Department of Preventative Conservation and Restoration

Establishing a department of preventive conservation and restoration at the Museu Nacional de Antropologia is part of the comprehensive, long-term collaboration agreed by the directorates of the National Museums of Angola, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and the Goethe-Institut Angola in December 2018.

The project is funded by the German Foreign Ministry’s “Agentur für Internationale Museumskooperation”.