Motion Detector No. 5: The Photographic Collection of the Sámi through the Lens of International Research at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen

23.12.2015
Museum Europäischer Kulturen

The Museum Europäischer Kulturen houses one of Europe’s most significant collections of everyday Sámi objects and religious artefacts. This includes roughly 1000 photographs which capture in situ the way of life of the Sámi people – an indigenous people from Northern Europe – and their surrounding natural environments. But they also convey stereotypical perspectives, such as photographs of Sámi families in so-called “ethnic exhibits” in European cities from the late 19th century and in the 1920s.

Due to paradigm shifts in politics and society, the investigation of the historical development of Sámi identity has become a focus of contemporary academic research, particularly in Scandinavia.

In November 2015, as part of their research project Discussing History: Photographs of Sámi Culture, two Norwegian academics (Prof Dr Sigrid Lien and Dr Hilde Nielsen) analysed the Museum Europäischer Kulturen’s collection of ethnological and anthropological photographs. Through looking at this diverse source material, its history and the biographies of the photographers, the interaction with the pictures was analysed, and the collection itself was placed within a broader European context. 

The "Motion Detector" has established itself as a new format through which the Museum Europäischer Kulturen regularly addresses contemporary issues and highlights their relevance for the museum and its collection. The "Motion Detector" is located in the foyer of Arnimallee 25, right next to the entrance.)