Traces

Memorial plaque for the fallen of the German Schutztruppe in the courtyard of the Alte Feste, Windhoek, Namibia Photo (detail): Fabian von Poser © picture alliance/imageBROKER
Authorised Heritage Discourse

Interrogating the German colonial narrative in Namibia

The memory and heritage landscape in Namibia today visibly recalls the German colonial era, with many of its prominent monuments and buildings safeguarded by National Monument status.

Historical doors from an African royal palace in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris - one of the objects to be restituted Photo (detail): Michel Euler © pciture alliace / AP Photo
Museum cooperation

Rethinking the colonial legacy

Returning artefacts and cultural assets from the colonial era to their countries of origin in Africa has been a subject of New approaches to working with museums debate in various forums for a long time. However it increasingly appears that these discussions are not leading to a specific outcome.

Scientist Ndzodo Awono shows a pipe from Cameroon in the foam magazine of the Überseemuseum Bremen Photo (detail): Carmen Jaspersen © picture alliance
Colonial loot

Controversial collections

How are German museums supposed to cope with the large volume of artefacts from the colonial era? The debate is focused on giving them back. But actually there’s something else that’s far more important.

South African National Gallery Photo (detail): ImageBROKER © picture alliance
Museums in South Africa

Laboratories of Social Transformation

Which transformations were necessary to free museums from the shackles of colonialism? Ciraj Rassool highlights the developments in South African museums since the mid-nineties.

As of 2019, the collection of objects of non-European origin will be on display in the reconstructed Berlin palace. Photo (detail): picture alliance/dpa/Stefan Jaitner
Provenance research

The long arm of colonialism

Scheduled to open in 2019, the Humboldt Forum with its collection of objects of non-European origin was conceived as a space of cultural encounter and understanding. But serious questions have arisen about how German and European cultural institutions are responding to critical questions about the restitution of artefacts brought in by colonialism.

Coding da Vinci participants roll out their ideas in the six-week project phase.  Photo (detail): © Coding da Vinci
Coding da Vinci

The digitalisation of culture

Visitors to museums and archives usually interact with exhibits locked in display cases in darkened rooms. Yet modern technology has given us ways to more directly experience art and cultural artefacts. Coding da Vinci is an open, cultural data hackathon that digitally brings museum pieces to life.  

An exhibition in the German History Museum Photo (detail): © Marcel Runge
Recollecting colonial history

A Journey through Postcolonial Berlin

This project initiated by the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg aimed for participants from different African countries and Germany to face their common history. Here is what three participants experienced on their journey.

Namibian national hero Hendrik Witbooi probably never dreamed that his whip and bible would one day be the stuff of international controversy. Photo (detail): akg-images © picture alliance
Repatriation debate

The restitution of colonial artefacts is going slowly

Where do they belong? Ownership claims to cultural assets from the colonial period are often controversial and negotiating possible restitution is frequently a fraught and drawn-out process. Germany is taking some initial steps towards a resolution.

Projects on the subject traces