State Museum Hannover




General information about the institution


The Landesmuseum Hannover, the largest national state museum in Lower Saxony, houses the Department of Ethnology, Archaeology and Natural History as well as the State Gallery. It evolved from the Museum für Kunst und Wissenschaft (Museum of Art and Science), founded in 1856 by civic associations. It was later called Provinzialmuseum. The Department of Ethnology of the museum holds one of the oldest collections in Germany: It goes back to the Cabinet of Rarities of King Ernst August (1771 – 1851), doublet transfers from the Academic Museum in Göttingen and ethnographic objects that were once held by the Natural History Society of Lower Saxony. This early collection consists mainly of objects that were given as gifts to the royal house or to the associations, or pieces by famous explorers such as James Cook, Georg Forster or Hermann and Robert von Schlagintweit.


General information on collections from colonial contexts in the respective institution


Since the Provinzialmuseum concentrated its ethnographic collection on the former German colonies during the colonial period but also in the post-colonial phase, the depot still contains a particularly large number of objects from these regions. Jacobus Reimers, director of the Provinzialmuseum between 1890 and 1910, contacted various officials in the German colonies in 1894 in order to actively boost the development of the collection. His aim was to promote the "colonial idea". He was quite successful with his request: Between 1884 and 1919 there was a significant increase in ethnographic objects in the collection. His successor Karl Hermann Jacob-Friesen supported a colonial-revisionist agenda and further expanded the collecting focus. Thus, the current density of objects from the former German colonial areas is not surprising.


Information on the sub-collections to be researched in PAESE


With almost 1,500 objects from Cameroon, this collection is the largest collection from an African country in Hanover. The research project therefore focuses on the collection from Cameroon. Of this total, 925 pieces were given to the museum during the entire colonial period of Cameroon, i.e. between 1884 and 1961. During the German colonial period 655 objects were received. A particularly large number of objects from Cameroon originate from the West Region of the country, the so-called Grassfields, which is why this region is given special consideration in the project.

The ethnological collection at the Landesmuseum Hanover also contains over 160 Aboriginal objects from various regions in Australia. The vast majority of those are of a mundane nature, such as boomerangs, spears, etc. However, the collection also contains a small number of ceremonial objects (Tjurunga, Churinga), which are treated as secret-sacred by the Aboriginal communities of origin and are only to be handled and seen by initiated Aboriginal men. The provenances of these objects are part of a PAESE sub-project.


Curator: Mareike Späth

Subproject: Conditions of acquisitions in colonial Cameroon

Researcher: Bianca Baumann

Head of the Subproject: Dr. Claudia Andratschke

Subproject: Provenances of Tjurunga

Researcher: Olaf Geerken

Head of the Subproject: Prof. Dr. Rebekka Habermas