Museum — a lively place

in GRASSI Museum Leipzig

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© Mo.Zaboli

Restitution of Benin objects

On 29 April 2021, the Saxon Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Barbara Klepsch and the Director of the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig, Léontine Meijer-van Mensch, took part in the discussion round of the Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters on the restitution of Benin objects. The political signal for the return of the looted objects was given. Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture, said:

"We are facing up to the historical and moral responsibility of bringing Germany's colonial past to light and coming to terms with it. [...] I am glad and grateful that we have been able to agree on the common goal of developing a coordinated stance in Germany and reaching a common understanding with the Nigerian side. In addition to the greatest possible transparency, we are above all striving for substantial restitution. In this way, we would like to contribute to understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of the people who were robbed of their cultural treasures during the period of colonialism. We are planning the first returns in the course of 2022."

The GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig and also the Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden hold objects from the former Kingdom of Benin. The restitution of looted objects is not only an ethical and moral duty, but also the beginning of a transnational exchange to tell the effects of colonialism to this day as part of a common history.

Read more (in German)

Heidelberger Statement

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.

Heidelberg Statement

Press Statement Benin Dialogue Group 2019

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

Upcoming events

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History of the collection

The Leipzig ethnographical museum was built on the universal collection amassed by the Dresden court councillor and librarian Gustav Klemm, whose aim was to document the cultural history of humanity. Today, the museum holds around 200,000 objects and 150,000 historical photographs and documents.

History of the collection

Elefantenstatue mit vielen Köpfen und Armen, davor ein großes Mandala

From our Online Collection

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