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Living Things in the Amazon and in the Museum – Shared Knowledge in the Humboldt Forum

The ‘decolonization’ and opening-up of ethnological museums is currently a subject of intense debate, particularly in the context of the establishment of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. In this context, the Ethnologisches Museum aspires to transfer the prerogative of interpretation of its collections to others, particularly to people from the regions from which the objects themselves come, thus giving voice to diverse perspectives in its exhibitions.

The project ‘Living Things in the Amazon and in the Museum – Shared Knowledge in the Humboldt Forum’ seeks to illustrate some of the ways these goals can be accomplished. This project continues and expands on the similar project called ‘Sharing Knowledge’, developed in the Humboldt Lab Dahlem, and is made possible by the financial support of the VolkswagenStiftung, under the auspices of the funding initiative ‘Forschung im Museum’ (Research in the Museum), and of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Germany’s version of the National Arts Council). Museum employees will use an online platform to research ethnographic objects and evidence of non-material culture from Amazonia, working together with representatives from indigenous educational institutions and organisations in Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia.

An exhibition version of this platform, which will be developed over the course of the project, will form a part of the Amazon Exhibition in the Humboldt Forum, allowing visitors to trace the processes of exchange that make up the project and better understand its conclusions. A parallel research project is also planned to reflect on the epistemological consequences of this collaborative project for all the participants.

Project Director: Dr. Andrea Scholz
Funding: VolkswagenStiftung, Kulturstiftung des Bundes
Duration: 2016 to 2021