Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The world-famous collections of the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) are on display in large-scale exhibitions on the second and third floors of the Humboldt Forum.


Together with their sister collections on the Museum Island, the two unique collections of the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst span epochs and continents and offer an overview of the art and cultures of the world.


The Humboldt Forum can only be a success if its collections are able to respond to current issues.

The museums are displaying their archaeological, ethnological and art historical collections over more than 17,000 square meters of exhibition space in the Humboldt Forum, together with a large collection of photographs, films and sound recordings. The modular exhibition structure allows a high degree of flexibility in responding to – and integrating – new research findings and taking a stance on current social issues.


Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst

New Presentation of the Collections
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The museums

The Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst are two of a total of 15 collections which together make up the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) belonging to the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). Both the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst have their origins in the Brandenburgisch-Preussische Kunstkammer, which was located in the Berlin Palace from the early 17th century and from which the present Staatliche Museen zu Berlin later emerged.

Ethnologisches Museum

As one of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Ethnologisches Museum is internationally one of the largest and most important of its kind. Its collections contain some 500,000 ethnographic, archaeological, cultural and historical objects from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and the South Seas. The collection is additionally enhanced by 140,000 ethnomusicological audio documents, 285,000 ethnographic photographs, 20,000 films and 200,000 pages of written documents. Many of its collections are among the most extensive and valuable worldwide.

The Museum für Völkerkunde on Königgrätzer Straße, seen from the corner of Prinz Albrecht Straße, woodcut (1886), after a drawing from G. Theuerkauf
© bpk
Museum für Asiatische Kunst

The collections in the Museum für Asiatische Kunst encompass a spectrum of art and crafts from the 5th century BC to the present day: East Asian painting and graphics; lacquerware and ceramics; the art and culture of the Silk Road; South and Southeast Asian, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures; and later Indian painting. At the heart of the collection are Central Asian wall paintings and sculptures, most of which come from Buddhist cave temples along the Silk Road. They represent a link between the cultures of South and East Asia.

The former foyer of the museums in Berlin-Dahlem, Lansstraße entrance
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Achim Kleuker

Provenance research & colonialism

The Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are committed to taking a critical look at the legacy and consequences of colonialism, and at the role and perspective of Europe. Reflections on current attitudes and partnerships with source communities in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas will help widen biased Eurocentric perspectives without denying the existing European connections.

Bought, plundered, exchanged, donated, extorted, looted: the objects in the collections of the Ethnologischen Museums and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst  were acquired and appropriated in a whole range of ways. Accompanied by a booklet, both collections at the Humboldt Forum explore the objects, people and events to tell the stories that have shaped the relationships between human kind and objects.

Forschungscampus Dahlem

The majority of both museums’ collections will remain in Dahlem. In partnership with, among others, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen and the Institut für Museumsforschung of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the museums form the Forschungscampus Dahlem.

Forschungscampus Dahlem
© Arnold und Gladisch Architekten
Collection research

At the campus, research will be conducted on the holdings in collaboration with representatives of source communities from Africa, Asia, Oceania and America, and future Humboldt Forum exhibitions from the two museums will be designed on the basis of their findings.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (SMB)

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