COLLECTED. BOUGHT. LOOTED? Case Studies from a Colonial and National Socialist Context

Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
16 Aug 2018 - 27 Jan 2019

COLLECTED, BOUGHT, LOOTED? Why did a head of the Duala give this headdress to a German teacher in Cameroon? Collector: Theodor Christaller, probably 1890s, Collection Weltkulturen Museum, Photo: Wolfgang Günzel (Detail)

This exhibition is part of a cooperation “Bought. Collected. Looted? How things came into the museum” with the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, the Museum Judengasse and the Museum Angewandte Kunst, which are opened their own exhibitions on this topic in May and June 2018.

How did ancestor figures from Nias off the western coast of Sumatra enter the European art market in the early twentieth century? Why could the museum buy objects rather ‘cheaply’ in Paris and Amsterdam in the early 1940s? Is a weapon belt from South Africa war booty?

These are just some of the questions arising from a critical review of the Weltkulturen Museum’s collection. For many of the museum’s objects, their provenance remains vague with hardly any written records documenting their acquisition. To specifically address these issues, the exhibition “Collected. Bought. Looted?” presents a number of case studies to highlight collecting practices in the colonial context and under the Nazi regime. The histories of these objects clearly underline the importance of a long-term analysis of the museum’s own collection history. At the same time, the exhibition shows the limits often encountered when reconstructing the acquisition of museum objects and how, in many cases, the further questions raised remain unanswered.

Curated by Julia Friedel and Vanessa von Gliszczynski.


Weltkulturen Museum
A museum of the city of Frankfurt
Schaumainkai 29-37
60594 Frankfurt am Main




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