Transparenz - Sammlung


Decolonising requires dialogue, expertise and support – The Heidelberg Statement (approved on the occasion of the 2019 Annual Conference of the Directors of Ethnographic Museums in German Speaking Countries)

Heidelberger Stellungnahme [Deutsch] - Heidelberg Statement [English]

The ethnographic collection of the Georg-August-University Goettingen concurs with the statement of the ethnographic museum of the University of Zurich #blacklivesmatter.

2021, the Minister of State for Culture and Media, the directors of the German museums belonging to the “Benin Dialogue Group”, the Ministers of Culture of the Länder and representatives of the Federal Foreign Office agreed on a joint statement on the handling of the Benin bronzes in German museums and institutions . At the suggestion of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Ethnographic Collection, the Presidential Board of the University of Göttingen has joined this statement.
The commemorative head (Af 932) kept in Göttingen is listed, among others, in the online-portal of the “German Contact Point for Collections from Colonial Contexts”. Information on this was further sent to the "Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt" (MARKK), Hamburg, which is digitally bringing together artworks from the former Kingdom of Benin that are scattered around the world.


We strive to provide information about our collection online and gradually feed our inventories into the online portal of the University of Göttingen. However, due to a lack of resources, so far only a small percentage of our collection has been covered. For now, you can browse through our inventory catalogues (pdf files in German):

The Ethnographic Collection Göttingen is part of the joint provenance research project PAESE. Within this framework, eight sub-projects are investigating objects from colonial contexts that are located in ethnographic collections in Lower Saxony. Among other things, information will be made available in a common database. You can find it here.

In two projects, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the provenance of tjurunga, bull roarers and other objects from the Ethnographic Collection of the Georg August-Universität Göttingen, that are possibly to be classified as secret/sacred, was investigated from 1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021 and from 1 August 2021 to 31 January 2022. The project reports are available to download in both German und English:
Tjurunga in der Ethnologischen Sammlung
Tjurunga in the Ethnographic Collection
Verdachtsmomente des 'Heiligen'
Suspicions of the Sacred

The Ethnographic Collection supports the Recollecting Rapanui project at LMU Munich.


Vorbereitung Göttingen Restitution Lodz

In 2016 a collection of 344 ethnographica was restituted to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Łódź (Poland). In 1942, the Ethnographic Collection received the objects, which had previously belonged to the holdings of the museum in Łódź, mainly from Liberia and Peru, through the Grassi Museum in Leipzig. In 1996, the Institute management in Göttingen reported the holdings to the "Koordinierungsstelle der Länder für die Rückführung von Kulturgutern" (The Coordination Office of the Länder for the Return of Cultural Property). Following a research project sponsored by the Deutschen Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Lost Art Foundation) 2011/12 (Beate Hermann/Dr. Gundolf Krüger), the Ethnographica were added to the database In October 2015 the University of Göttingen received an official request for restitution from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego). As a result, the University of Göttingen decided by mutual agreement to restitute the objects to Łódź. The handover took place in May 2016.

The photo shows the preparation of the restitution of West African and South American ethnographica from Göttingen to Łódź. Photo: Harry Haase, 2016.

Essay by Beate Hermann on Göttinger "Collection Lodz“

Repatriierung Toi moko Göttingen

On 15 October 2020 two tattooed and mummified Maori ancestral skulls (Toi moko) were repatriated to the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand. The two Toi moko arrived to the Akademisches Museum in Göttingen from England in 1834. How they came from New Zealand to England is not known. Since 1934 they had been part of the Ethnographic Collection.

The festive ceremony was conducted by Te Arikirangi Mamaku (coordinator of the repatriation program at Te Papa) and Hinemoana Baker. The speeches were delivered by H.E. Rupert Holborow, Ambassador of New Zealand, and Prof. Dr. Hiltraud Casper-Hehne, Vice President of the University of Göttingen.

The photo shows Hinemoana Baker and Te Arikirangi Mamaku from the Maori delegation removing the black cloth that covered the tūpuna (ancestors) during the ceremony. Photo: Harry Haase, 2020.

Essay by Gundolf Krüger about the provenance of the two Toi moko.