Like many ethnological museums, the Linden-Museum is undergoing a process of transformation. In an increasingly diverse society, we must renegotiate the role and relevance of ethnological museums. The support provided through the Initiative for Ethnological Collections enables us to experimentally develop the basis for a new orientation. Following the principle of the laboratory, we develop and test new forms of museum knowledge production, mediation, and presentation in eight LindenLabs.
Indigenous societies were often first pushed to the margins of society by colonial rulers and later by post-colonial nation states. Threatened by poverty and violent conflicts, they sold their cultural artefacts. How can museums, as custodians of these collections, contribute to the strengthening of these societies today? What significance can our collections have for the revival of cultural practices and the social empowerment of indigenous groups? Together with representatives of indigenous cultural initiatives from the Myanmar-Thai border region (Karenni region), new forms of cooperation and sharing of know-how and resources will be experimented with. The Linden-Museum‘s collection from this region will be examined from new perspectives and a presentation featuring many voices will be jointly developed.
The examination of the colonial period by means of provenance research is increasingly establishing itself as a core task of ethnological museums, but its presentation has so far been sidelined. This lab is looking for new ways of displaying the results — for the Stuttgart public, but also for representatives of source communities. How can acquisition contexts be made visible in exciting ways? How can the diverse assessments of an object be appropriately presented?
There are thousands of objects, photos, and documents from Afghanistan in the Linden-Museum. Their exciting and sometimes problematic stories tell us a lot about personal experiences and memories, but also about political and economic circumstances and interdependencies. They embody highly ambivalent facets of German-Afghan relations in the past and present. A working group of interested people from Stuttgart (and the region) with and without connections to Afghanistan will critically examine these entangled stories and enrich or comment on them with new materials and activities.
Together with the ABRAC (Advisory Board for the Representation of African Collections at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart) and members of the Linden-Museum staff, a group of engaged scholars, writers, and artists based both in Europe and Africa will explore one of the historical colonial collections from Cameroon held at the Linden-Museum (Hermann Bertram, 1908) and discuss its meanings and legacies. Focusing on the historical collection as a case study, the group will interrogate, question, and experiment with the collecting and storytelling practices associated with museum work that produce ‘heritages’. The workshop will result in a special edition of the Cameroonian literature magazine Bakwa and a jointly designed presentation aimed at sharing the group’s insights and experiences.
The aim of the lab is to establish the basis for a long-term institutional cooperation with the Mapuche Museum in Cañete (Chile). The museum is an important centre for the decolonisation efforts of the indigenous group, as the Mapuche are still confronted with complex land rights issues and the consequences of colonialism. The Linden-Museum acts as a contact zone for the meeting of various cultural representatives from South and North America. The theme of the workshop and the presentation will be determined by representatives of the Mapuche themselves.
German Federal Cultural Foundation
The German Federal Cultural Foundation is one of the largest publicly funded cultural foundations in Europe. Its main priority is to support innovative programmes and projects on an international level. The foundation also invests in projects which develop new methods of fostering cultural heritage and tap into the cultural and artistic potential of knowledge required for addressing social issues.
Initiative for Ethnological Collections
In recent years, the Federal Cultural Foundation has already launched a number of programmes and initiatives that support processes of change, such as a contemporary and global orientation of museum collections. In addition to the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, the Hamburg MARKK — Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt, and the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig are involved in the initiative for Ethnological Collections. In the future, all three museums will pursue new paths in cooperation with source communities, in experimenting with new forms of museum presentations, in opening up to local urban societies, and in provenance research. As part of these initiative, the three ethnological museums each receive one million euros over a period of up to four years.
Henrike Louise Hoffmann