South-Sea Boat Sails into the Humboldt Forum

29.05.2018
Ethnologisches Museum

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the largest outrigger canoe from the Ethnologisches Museum was transferred to the Humboldt Forum. The Dahlem visitor favorite is one of the highlights of the permanent exhibition, which will be on view beginning in late 2019 in the rebuilt Berlin Palace.

By means of an elaborate special transport, the hull of the 16-metre-long and 10-metre-high sailboat travelled in a massive crate from Dahlem, an outer western district, to Mitte, where it was hoisted, under expert supervision, into the exhibition hall on the first floor. An opening had been left in one of the palace walls specifically to receive the largest objects, to be walled up only after their import. 

Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters accepted the valuable cargo together with the chief technology officer of the Foundation for the Humboldt Forum, Hans-Dieter Hegner, and the President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Hermann Parzinger.

Hermann Parzinger spoke on the significance of the sensitive undertaking: ‘The collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are the Humboldt Forum’s backbone. Moving the objects from Dahlem to Mitte has constituted a logistical challenge for all involved. The ship from the island of Luf is an icon of the Ethnologisches Museum and its arrival here marks the beginning of the installation of the Humboldt Forum’s content. The idea, once confined to paper, of what this new cultural urban quarter in the heart of Berlin will become, is now becoming a reality: a place where the world can be better understood. I thank all those involved from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Foundation for the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace, and the Humboldt Forum Kultur GmbH for the success of this delicate operation.’

The sailboat is approximately 130 years old and comes from the island of Luf in the Bismarck Archipelago, which today belongs to Papua New Guinea. It is the last of its kind. After being acquired by a trading company in 1903, it was offered to the Museum für Völkerkunde (now the Ethnologisches Museum) and transferred to Berlin in 1904.

At the end of 2019, a new cultural quarter in the heart of Berlin will blossom in the form of the Humboldt Forum. By bringing together outstanding collections from important exhibits, including objects and artworks from the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, the Humboldt Forum will spark new insights into the world of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The major players in the Humboldt Forum include the Foundation for the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz with the SMB’s non-European collections – the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst – Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin, and the Humboldt University of Berlin.