​​​​​​Provenance Research at the Humboldt Forum

Museum collections are the result of relationships. Provenance research makes the origins and relational histories behind the objects visible, and scrutinises the unequal power relationships that existed when the objects were acquired.

Bought, plundered, exchanged, donated, extorted, looted: the objects in the collections of the Ethnologischen Museums and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst  were acquired and appropriated in a whole range of ways. Accompanied by a booklet, both collections at the Humboldt Forum explore the objects, people and events to tell the stories that have shaped the relationships between human kind and objects.

Provenance research itself also builds relationships. Collaborative research and dialogue with people from the regions from which the objects originate can change our ideas about our shared past. Collectively confronting histories that are often violent can also create new ways of dealing with the objects in the future and new paths for postcolonial provenance research.

Video Tour of Postcolonial Provenance Research at the Humboldt Forum


Individual Objects at the Humboldt Forum

The following content is so far only available in German. A translation into English is in progress.

Kangaroo tooth necklace, Australia, Room 208

Length: 2:25 minutes

German naval expedition in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Room 218

Lenght: 2:55 minutes

Feather cloak – King Kamehameha III, Hawai'i, Room 219

Length: 2:28 minutes

Outrigger boat Luf Island, Papua New Guinea, Room 214

Length: 3:05 minutes

Sound recordings, German prisoner of war camp, South Korea, room 217

Lenght: 2:39 minutes

Rifle projectiles, Hassan bin Omari, Tanzania, Room 214

Length: 3:22 minutes

Herero girl, Namibia, Room 214

Length: 2:30 minutes

Mandu Yenu, King’s throne, Cameroon, Room 216

Length: 3:00 minutes

Chibinda Ilunga, Angola

Length: 2:16 minutes

Amanullah Khan, Afghanistan, Room 314

Lenght: 3:05 minutes

Portrait of an officer, China, Room 320

Lenght: 3:22 minutes

State gift from the People’s Republic of China to the GDR, Room 320

Length: 2:51 minutes


power II relations. Postcolonial Provenance Research at the Humboldt Forum (PDF, 6 MB)