Past events
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The collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin includes some 10,000 objects which are attributed to the area of ​​present-day Tanzania. Most of the objects were acquired – often in violent ways – during the period of German and British colonial rule. The workshop exhibition Exhibiting.Omissions. Objects from Tanzania and the Colonial Archive questions, remembers, and reconsiders the museum’s objects and their stories: to whom and where did the objects now in the museum’s depot belong? What stories do they have to tell that remain untold or ignored to this day? Should these objects still be on display in Berlin today? And what omissions do we encounter when reflecting on these issues, what remains hidden?

The objects’ problematic colonial and racist past is addressed in several sections. For example, the exhibition includes four display cases in which original objects from the former colony of “German East Africa” are replaced with “surrogate objects” by contemporary artists, among others. Sensitive objects thus attain visibility and are subject to a new, contemporary approach. Even omissions and gaps – in archives, in historiography – are made visible: their trail is marked by blank text boxes and pink-coloured fields.

In this exhibition, the curatorial team in Berlin explore sensitive objects from Tanzania, following a process of consultation with a team of critical companions. Viewed as a preparatory event for a collaborative project, the exhibition will culminate in a presentation curated jointly with the National Museum of Tanzania. The viewpoints of various joint partners and the curatorial team’s new research findings will be integrated into the exhibition along the way. To take a few examples, from March to July 2023 visitors were able to see an intervention entitled Mingled Living Forces by students at the art school weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, and since October 2023 the exhibition has included an intervention Exhibiting.Omissions.Thinking ahead by students attending the Exhibiting Colonialism seminar at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s Institute of History, taught by Janis Nalbadidacis. A further phase of cultural responses is planned for 2024. It’s always worth stopping in for another look – we’d love to see you there!


Since October 2023: The evolution of cooperation with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

On 19 October 2023, the third phase of the exhibition Exhibiting.Omissions. Objects from Tanzania and the Colonial Archive entitled Exhibiting.Omissions.Thinking ahead opened on the second floor of the Humboldt Forum. It features new interventions, commentaries, and additions to the existing sections of the exhibition which have been produced by students of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the Exhibiting Colonialism seminar (taught by Janis Nalbadidacis at the Institute for History), as well as even more new information, illustrations, stories, and standpoints from the Humboldt Forum’s own curatorial team.

At the opening, Hartmut Dorgerloh spoke on behalf of the Humboldt Forum, Janis Nalbadidacis represented the seminar, and Maike Schimanowski gave a speech in the name of the curatorial team. Visitors could then take a dialogue-based tour of the exhibition, allowing them to find out more about the background to the seminar’s discussions and approaches as well as the material contributed by the students and the curatorial team. Then there was a short break while the venue was rearranged for a discussion round on the theme of “stating your position”, in which the participants reflected on the topics and questions addressed in the collaboration and discussed them with the audience.