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Humboldt Lab Tanzania

Provenance Research in the Future Humboldt Forum: The project ‘Humboldt Lab Tanzania’ is closely connected with the pilot project Tanzania–Germany: Shared Object Histories? and represents a continuation of the programme Humboldt Lab Dahlem, organized by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK). Between 2012 and 2015, the project fed into exhibition planning for the future Humboldt Forum locations of the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, both of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

The starting point for the ‘Humboldt Lab Tanzania’ is a working through of the history of the Tanzania Collection and its objects, in cooperation with Tanzanian artists and scholars, as well as individuals from the communities in which the objects originated. Supported by TURN (the Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries) of the Federal Cultural Foundation, the project mainly focuses on objects appropriated in colonial wars, in particular ‘war booty’ taken during the Maji Maji War. In this context, scholars from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania will undertake a short field trip to the places of origin of selected objects. A group of Tanzanian artists has already visited the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin, including its storerooms: this group will later act as artists in residence at the Nafasi Art Space in Dar es Salaam, where they will work on possible (re-)presentation forms of sensitive objects, as well as developing their own artistic responses.

An opening conference at the Dar es Salaam Goethe-Institut in November 2016 also provided a space in which to exchange different opinions and perspectives. In cooperation with the National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam, research findings, viewpoints, and artworks produced as part of the project so far will be presented in the travelling exhibition Living Inside the Story – Humboldt Lab Tanzania in early 2017. The exhibition will tour a number of locations, including the National Museum and House of Culture and the University of Dar es Salaam. The results of collective research, workshops, and other activities on the German colonial government in former German East Africa will also feed into the conception and design of the sections on colonial conquest in the East Africa and Indian Ocean module of the Humboldt Forum’s Africa presentation. 

  • L. Reyels, P. Ivanov u. K. Weber-Sinn (Hg.) (2018) Humboldt Lab Tanzania: Objekte aus den Kolonialkriegen im Ethnologischen Museum, Berlin – Ein tansanisch deutscher Dialog. / Objects from the Colonial Wars in the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin – A Tanzanian-German Dialogue. / Mikusanyo ya Vita vya Ukoloni katika Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin – Majadiliano ya Tanzania-Ujerumani, Berlin: Reimer (Publication as PDF file, 9 MB).

Institution: Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Project coordination: PD Dr. Paola Ivanov (Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Project staff: Sarita Mamseri (Künstlerische Leitung, Nafasi Art Space), Kristin Weber-Sinn (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), Hendryk Ortlieb (Museologe, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Cooperation partners: Bookstop Sanaa: Visual Art Library & Creative Learning Space in Dar es Salaam; University of Dar es Salaam, Department of History, Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Department of Archaeology; National Museum and House of Culture, Dar es Salaam; Antiquities Department, Dar es Salaam/Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Goethe-Institut Tanzania
Project funding: Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Federal Cultural Foundation) TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries
Duration: June 2016 to June 2018 (completed)