Invisible Inventories: Questioning Kenyan Collections in Western Museums

Weltkulturenmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
06 Oct 2021 - 09 Jan 2022

Invisible Inventories: Questioning Kenyan Collections in Western Museums

How can we make Kenyan cultural assets that are possessed by institutions in the Global North accessible to present-day Kenyan society?

Since 2018, this question has been addressed by the International Inventories Programme (IIP), which brings together Kenyan and European artists and scholars. The core aim of the project is to develop a database of all Kenyan objects in European and North American museums. Following exhibitions in Nairobi (18.3.–30.5.2021) and Cologne (28.5.–29.8.2021), the visualisation of this database will now be presented in the Weltkulturen Museum along with further scholarly and artistic contributions.

As well as negotiating issues about restitution, a forum will be created for addressing individual objects from intellectual and emotional points of view. The exhibition also deals with the psychological and political consequences of the loss or absence of certain objects from the societies in which they were created. Perspectives and voices from Kenya are central to the approach taken at the Weltkulturen Museum. There are works on show by artist collectives The Nest and SHIFT, interviews with members of local Kenyan societies, footage from the discussions organised by the project, and the results of joint research on objects from the collection. In order to highlight the diverse range of opinions about how these objects should be presented, the artist collectives will redesign a room of the exhibition during its runtime: this will turn the museum display itself into a subject for debate.


Participating scholars and artists
The Nest Collective: Jim Chuchu, Njoki Ngumi (Kenya) SHIFT collective: Sam Hopkins (Kenya/Germany), Marian Nur Goni (France), Simon Rittmeier (Germany)
National Museums of Kenya: Lydia Nafula, Philemon Nyamanga, George Juma Ondeng’, Njeri Gachihi, Lydia Galavu and the Tuzi collective (Kenia)
Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum: Clara Himmelheber (Germany)
Weltkulturen Museum: Julia Friedel, Leonie Neumann, Frauke Gathof (Germany)


On 7th December: Artistic intervention in the exhibition “Invisible Inventories: Questioning Kenyan Collections in Western Museums” by the SHIFT collective. More here




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