to whom did you belong?

Not only does the museum preserve everyday objects, adornment, clothing and furniture, but also countless sacred and secret objects. These objects protect us, help us to overcome catastrophes, alleviate pain and fears, and accept loss. They accompany our grief for loved ones who have died and help prevent forgetting them.

Every single object that we preserve and show here in the museum was once made by people from all over the world.

[Translate to English:] Zu wem hast du gehört?

They were worn, danced, loved, cared for, revered and protected. Often we do not know their makers, even more rarely their first owners. Thus all these objects are actually only fragments of stories, of personal and collective destinies.

These mostly anonymous objects have reached the museum in many ways. Donated or exchanged, sometimes bought, but often also violently plundered during colonial wars. Such is the difficult history of these collections. The question arises as to how a museum deals with this history today.

© Mo.Zaboli

[Translate to English:] bilder

the "time of the others"

For a long time, the classification of the so-called ethnological objects was based on an evolutionary principle: scholars argued that every culture was at a certain stage of human development, trapped in its own time bubble and condemned to replicate itself indefinitely. As the philosopher Hegel claimed, these cultures are hardly able to step out of their own selves to inscribe their lives in history.


[Translate to English:] die zeit der anderen

Ethnological objects were classified on a scale of “general human development", with European civilization representing the final stage of the scale and therefore the peak of progress, describing itself as the model of all cultures. The intervention of the West in civilization should enable “backward" societies to advance. Time and space, technological progress and human development were confused. Ethnologists became specialists for the “time of others".

The so-called ethnological objects, which were massively collected by museums over the past 150 years – these objects of the “others" from a “different time" – were assigned a place outside history.

Meanwhile, it is recognized that all cultures have the same time and that globalization is an integral part of human nature and not a relatively recent chapter in its history. As a result, the aim today is to set new clocks on the basis of a common time, so that the hands no longer

© Jan Tschatschula
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