in GRASSI Museum Leipzig


REINVENTING GRASSI.SKD: In the coming years we will renew our entire permanent exhibit and more. This is made possible through the programme "Initiative für ethnologische Sammlungen" whose sponsorship we received. That is also the reason why our museum is currently closed and will only reopen in parts on December 2nd with a new presentation. Our events still take place in an accustomed form. On our website and on the social media channels we inform about current offers as well as the progress of our reconstruction.

Link KSB

The project is being encouraged and funded by Initiative für ethnologische Sammlungen.

Decolonisation, restitution, and repatriation

New Platform on Decolonisation, Restitution, and Repatriation

The SES publish new platform on decolonisation and wish to encourage dialogue and discussions.

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Miriam Hamburger

Historic Inventories online

The State Ethnographic Collections Saxony present a new online platform where historic documentation of the ethnological museums is now publicly accessible.

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Juliane Heinze

Documents and Statements

Dokumente zu DRR

On April 29, 2021 the Saxon State Minister for Cultural Affairs and Tourism Barbara Klepsch and the director of GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde, Léontine Mejier-van Mensch, participated in a round table talk on restitution of Benin objects which had been initiated by Federal Minister of Cultural Affairs Monika Grütters. Political signals a return of the stolen objects have been made. Grütters explained: 

We acknowledge the historical and moral responsibility to uncover Germany's colonial past and deal with it properly. […] I am content and grateful to announce that we have been able to set a goal common to all, namely, to further develop and coordinate our position within Germany and to establish reciprocal and respectful communication with Nigeria. Next to utmost transparency we most of all intend substantial returns. In this way we would like to contribute to dialogue and reconciliate with the generations of decendants of those who have been stolen their cultural goods during colonialism. First returns are planned for 2022.“

Both GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig and Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden hold objects from former Benin Kingdom. Restituting stolen objects is not only our ethnical and moral duty, it is justn as well the beginning of transnational exchange aiming to understand the consequences of colonialism as our shared history until this day. 

The explication of the Federal Goverment (German)

Respective objects held by SKD online

In accordance with the Annual Conference of Directors of Ethnographic Museums in the German speaking context 2019 the following official statement was published in Heidelberg on 6 May 2019.

View Document on the Heidelberg Statement

Founded in Vienna in 2010 the Benin Dialogue Group (BDG) brings together state and regional representatives of cultural politics, museum representatives and representatives of the Royal Court of Benin City/Nigeria and European curators for African collections from Vienna, Berlin, Dresden/Leipzig, London, Leiden, Stockholm, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Oxford and Cambridge. Those European collections house important objects and private collections from historic Benin Kingdom in current day Nigeria. Informally speaking, all members of the BDG jointly aim to create a friendly and trustful environment. Some of the objectives proclaimed from the beginning are opening the collections, the digitalisation of collections and academic exchange. A digital inventory of Benin objects being kept in the museums of the world will be put up in order to maintain cooperative projects and exchange, but also to facilitate resititution of objects to Benin City where they will be added to a newly planned museal centre in 2021/22.

Press Statement  Benin Dialogue Group 2019

The ethnographic museums in Leipzig, Dresden and Herrnhut, which have been part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden since 2010, have been dealing with their own colonial past. Decolonization is directed against colonial structures of discrimination that are both physically tangible and that influence our ways of thinking. It is an active process open to everyone. The new platform on the website invites dialogue and creates more transparency in ethnological discourse.

The first section, "Current Projects," provides background information on completed and ongoing projects of the three museums with international collaboration partners and groups. In the "Inquiries" section, visitors to the website can find out about the process of restitution and repatriation requests regarding collection holdings and ancestors (ancestral remains), as well as the subsequent research projects. The ‘’FAQ’’ (Frequently Asked Questions) section asks basic questions related to decolonization, restitution, and repatriation, and offers explanations of the specific vocabulary used on the website.

Léontine Meijer-van Mensch: "The ethnological discourse is happening, it is present. It is a process that still requires much in-depth research. We need to think and talk about our own ambivalent past. For example, does a project end when we return the remains of a member of a community, or do we begin a long-term engagement, involving not only the past but also the present and future?"

View press statement

The Benin Dialogue Group met at the British Museum, London, on 25 October 2021.
The members confirmed as Co-Chairs were Professor Abba Tijani (Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria), His Royal Highness Prince Aghatise Erediauwa (Benin Royal Court), and Dr. Barbara Plankensteiner (Museum am Rothenbaum, Hamburg (MARKK)).
Members included representatives from museums and institutions in Nigeria, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden. The Group heard presentations from the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (Nigeria), from His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, from representatives of the Benin Royal Court on behalf of His Royal Majesty Omo N'Oba N'Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, and from the Executive Director of Legacy Restoration Trust, Phillip Ihenacho, all of whom are actively collaborating to inform the direction and outcomes of current initiatives in Benin City. The members shared information on current activity, including national and institutional developments regarding the return and restitution of Benin works to Nigeria, and discussed future initiatives focused on Benin City.
In addition, the group received an update on the progress of the Digital Benin project that aims to globally unite dispersed objects from the Kingdom of Benin on a single digital platform. All museums represented in the Benin Dialogue Group are participating in this project, thus achieving one of the long-standing goals of the Benin Dialogue Group in providing access to information on collections from the Kingdom of Benin around the world. The group discussed initiatives working towards the development of the museum landscape in Benin City.
The Benin Dialogue Group intends to meet again in late 2022/2023 either in Benin City, Nigeria or Hamburg, Germany.

Press statement Benin Dialogue Group 2021.



by Anja Nitz

DEPOT - Die Kultur des institutionellen Sammelns

In this recent photography project Berlin artist Anja Nitz deals with the cultural frames for institutionally motivated collecting. Her perspective makes the boundaries between collections, objects, and daily work routines in depots blur to some extent.

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Buchvorstellung Fotoband "Depot" von Anja Nitz (*1971)

Upcoming events

  • Dialoge - Viola da gamba und Cembalo in der deutschen und französischen Barockmusik

    Das dritte Konzert mit Gambenmusik in Folge – was sollte es da noch neues zu entdecken geben? Es gibt! Nach einem reinen Soloprogramm vor drei Jahren und dem Wettstreit zwischen Viola da gamba und Violoncello im vergangenen Jahr treffen sich nun Gambe und Cembalo in einem gleichberechtigten Miteinander. Sie vereinen und ergänzen sich in ihrer klanglichen Vielfalt und in der paritätischen Behandlung der Themen. Die Kompositionen sind klanggewaltig, spiegeln viele

    Facetten der Instrumente wider und sind in bester barocker Vituosität sehr affektreich.

    Werke von J. S. Bach, M. Marais u.a.

    Katharina Holzhey – Viola da gamba

    Sebastian Knebel – Cembalo

    Es erklingt das zweimanualige Cembalo von Johann Heinrich Gräbner d.J., Dresden, 1739, aus der Sammlung des Kunstgewerbemuseums.

    • Participation fee: 20 € / 17 € erm. Der Kartenverkauf erfolgt online unter und vor Ort im Besucherzentrum Alte Wache in Schloss Pillnitz, Karteninfo: +49(0)351.26 13 260 (keine Reservierungen) Ermäßigungen: Mitglieder des Freundeskreises Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden e.V., Senioren, Kinder, Schüler, Studenten, Schwerbeschädigte ab 50 %, Begleitperson, ALG II-Empfänger. Parkeintritt: Mit gültiger Konzert-Eintrittskarte ist der Eintritt in den Schlosspark sowie in die Ausstellung des Kunstgewerbemuseums im Bergpalais ab 16 Uhr frei.
  • Formafantasma: The School of the Untold

    Als praxisorientierte Forschungs- und Entwicklungsplattform des Kunstgewerbemuseums ist der Design Campus ein kuratorisch entwickelter und zukunftsorientierter Think Tank, der sich mit aktuellen Herausforderungen wie dem gesellschaftlichen Wandel, der Digitalisierung und der Klimakrise auseinandersetzt. Neben Vorträgen, Workshops und Residenzen als Lab-Formate findet jährlich eine mehrwöchige Sommerschule im Juli/August statt.

    In diesem Jahr kuratiert das international agierende Designer-Duo Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi und Simone Farresin) als „Heads of School“ das sechswöchige Programm der Sommerschule unter dem Titel „The School of the Untold“. Im Dialog mit der Sammlung des Kunstgewerbemuseums werden materielle Geschichten, kulturelle Weltanschauungen, die Beziehung zwischen Tradition und lokaler Kultur, kritische Ansätze zu Ökologie, Kolonialismus, Extraktivismus, die Beziehung zwischen Mensch und Nicht-Mensch sowie die Bedeutung von Objekten als kulturellen Vermittlern untersucht.

    • In diesem Jahr zeigt die Ausstellungsreihe „Artists‘ Conquest“, eine 2021 begonnene Kooperation des Kunstgewerbemuseums mit Schlösserland Sachsen, zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Schenkung Sammlung Hoffmann. Werke von Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Roni Horn, On Kawara, Richard Long, Chiharu Shiota und Marijke van Warmerdam wurden für spezifische Räume in Schloss und Park Pillnitz ausgewählt. Die einzelnen Positionen umkreisen thematisch die Zuordnungen von Innen und Außen, von persönlichem und öffentlichem Raum, von Betrachtenden und Betrachtetem, von Beständigkeit und Vergänglichkeit. Dabei korrespondieren die Werke mit den historischen architektonischen Anlagen des barocken Gebäudekomplexes und verweisen auf das Wechselspiel von Natur und Kultur als eines der gestalterischen Leitprinzipien der weitläufigen Parkanlage.


      Die Familie Hoffmann schenkte im März 2018 den Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden ihre umfangreiche Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst, die rund 1200 Werke umfasst. Ein Anliegen der Schenkung ist es, Werke aus der Sammlung mit den Objekten der unterschiedlichen Museen der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden in einen Dialog treten zu lassen und dadurch für die heutigen wie die historischen Exponate andere Betrachtungsweisen und Bedeutungsebenen zu öffnen.


      • Participation fee: Tagesticket inkl. Schloss und Park Pillnitz 8 EUR, ermäßigt 6 EUR Gruppen (ab 10 Personen) 7 EUR p. P. Kinder und Jugendliche unter 17 Jahren frei
      • Contact: Nora Grunwald ∙ T +49 (0)351 2613202 ∙ Mobil + 49 (0) 172 2156197


    Our programme for download

    Cast a glance at our current programme (German only).

    Our online programme

    Also, benefit from our digital offers, that have you have fascinating insights into our work. Stay in touch.

    From our Online Collection

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