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Tea sets, paravents, spears and shields – even if today’s heirs were not involved in their acquisition or theft, these artefacts are inextricably linked to German colonial history. For her book, Nicola Kuhn researched the stories behind numerous artefacts that are not in state museums today, but in German living rooms. Brought to Europe as trophies or mementos by missionaries, soldiers, settlers or traders, each object always conceals the tragedy of an occupied country and its people. How do we deal with this heritage and its history?

In conversation with provenance researcher Christine Howald, Nicola Kuhn sketches a panorama of German colonial rule and the culture of remembrance and asks how this legacy and its history should be dealt with.

The event is being organised in cooperation with dtv Verlag.



Nicola Kuhn has been art editor of the culture section of the Berlin daily newspaper ‘Der Tagesspiegel’ since 1991. She studied art history, theatre, film and television studies and modern history in Cologne and Hamburg. Kuhn has been working on the subject of looted art and restitution for many years.

Christine Howald is a provenance researcher specialising in art from Asia. Since 2019, she has been responsible for researching the Asian collections of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the Ethnologisches Museum, which are exhibited in the Humboldt Forum. Among other things, she is leading a joint project of seven German museums in cooperation with the Palace Museum in Beijing to research the objects that came to the museums in the course of the suppression of the ‘Boxer Rebellion’. The historian is deputy director of the Zentralarchiv, which manages and coordinates provenance research for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.


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