Decolonisation, restitution, and repatriation

The restitution of important cultural objects and repatriation of deceased community members is a vital component of decolonisation. The department "Wissenschaftliche Sammlungserschließung und -dokumentation" handles repatriation and restitution cases for the three ethnographic museums in Dresden, Leipzig, and Herrnhut.

what is decolonisation?

What is decolonisation?

Decolonisation describes a social movement that urges to identify historical and continuing colonial power structures. It centrally aims at disentangling colonial histories, hierarchies, and spaces from today's institutions and interactions. Starting from there, new possibilities arise to handle shared heritage and, not least, encounter one another.

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Völkerkunde will Völkerfrieden ("Ethnology for world peace", opening in stages at the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde, 1954)

What is restitution?

What is restitution?

Restitution describes the collaborative process of returning cultural or religious objects to those communities, for whom they were meaningful or who used them before they were made part of museum collections. For more detailed information click on FAQ below.

© Miriam Hamburger, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

what is repatriation?

What is repatriation?

Repatriation describes the process of bringing and returning soldiers or civilians back to their home countries after their death. In a museum context, repatriation describes the return of human remains to the community from where they once came.

Today, the objectifying terminology of human remains is placed aside in favor of the humanising name ancestors.

© Miriam Hamburger, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

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© Gabriele Richter, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
© Miriam Hamburger, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden


© Kimberley West, Goolarri Media Enterprises

Get in touch

Dr. Birgit Scheps-Bretschneider
Head of Provenance Research and Restitution
Curator Australia/Pacific
Tel. +49 341/97 31-915

Ute Uhlemann
Public Relations
Tel. +49 341/97 31-916

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