Workshop on 2–3 March 2023: Carried Away! Research into the Provenance of Museum Objects from the ‘Boxer War’

Humboldt Forum

On 2 and 3 March 2023, a workshop will be held at the Humboldt Forum on the provenance research conducted as part of the collaborative project Traces of the ‘Boxer War’ in German Museum Collections – A Joint Approach.

Today, both public museums and private collections are home to objects that were looted during the violent “Boxer War”, which was waged in China between 1900 and 1901. During this period, more than 20,000 soldiers from the German Empire were stationed in the country. Imperial palaces, temples, businesses, and private homes were all looted – not only at the hands of military personnel, but also diplomats, missionaries, and traders, who transported vast quantities of imperial porcelain, religious artefacts, paintings, weapons, books, and everyday items back to Germany. In addition to Germany, representatives of seven other nations played an active role in the looting, together with various local groups. Decades later, a number of objects acquired within this context were still finding their way into public and private collections via the international art market.

This workshop will for the very first time provide an overview of the objects currently held in public collections in German-speaking countries that were looted within the context of the Boxer War, using a selection of actual, concrete case studies. Curators, provenance researchers, and experts from museums, libraries, universities, and the art market, together with private collectors, will discuss methods for researching the provenance of collections amassed within this context and will outline the specific challenges involved in researching them.

Programme (PDF, 73 KB)

The workshop is open to the public and participation is free of charge. Interested parties must register in advance – providing their full name and, if applicable, their institution – by 1 March 2023 at: boxerprojekt[at]

The workshop event is organised as part of the broader project Traces of the ‘Boxer War’ in German Museum Collections – A Joint Approach, which is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation and conducted in collaboration with the Palace Museum in Beijing. The project is headed by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Zentralarchiv and is being carried out in collaboration with the following seven museums: the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Museum am Rothenbaum: Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) and Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (MK&G) in Hamburg, GRASSI Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Leipzig, Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, and Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich.