“If you have findings, then you have to act on them.”
News from 02/12/2018
On February 12, 2018, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, talked to the Tagesspiegel about the Humboldt Forum, ways of dealing with objects from the colonial era, and provenance research.
The Humboldt Forum is due to open at the end of 2019. It will enable the collections of the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) to be exhibited at a central location in the city. In the interview, Parzinger emphasized the importance of researching the origin of these objects: “The Ethnologisches Museum has 500,000 objects, but some of them are in groups of similar items, such as hundreds of arrowheads, which do not need to be investigated individually. Firstly, provenance research requires not quantity, but quality, and that means experts with specialized knowledge of ethnology, colonial history, and the world of collectors. Secondly, this research must be undertaken jointly with the countries of origin.” In relation to the Humboldt Forum, Parzinger remarked that the project is a challenge for all concerned: “This isn't just about moving an ethnological museum into new quarters. There have to be new narratives. For us as the founding directorate, it was important that, for example, the connection between culture and the natural environment should become more evident. [...] The Humboldt Forum is a perpetual process; it needs flexibility and changeability if it is not to get boring.” Also desirable, he added, are proactive research and stronger international cooperation.