Where is Angola located

Museum cooperation
The first steps have been taken

Researchers from Luanda and Berlin jointly discuss the meaning of a carving of a throne from Angola | © Goethe-Institut Angola

The Ethnological Museum Berlin houses one of the world's oldest collections of Angolan art. It is closely related to the collection of the Museu Nacional de Antropologia in Luanda. In December, the two museums start a cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, the goals of which the partners set in a workshop in Berlin. In addition to discussions, the participants visited exhibitions, depot stocks and workshops. A diary in pictures

by Franziska Bauer and Maximilian Wemhöner

Monday, November 26th: At the Christmas market

A stroll through the Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace
Berlin on the opening day of the Christmas markets: Before the workshop began, the Angolan guests visited the market at Charlottenburg Palace.

Tuesday, November 27th: ethnographic research and visit to the depot

How did the ethnographic collections of German explorers come about in the 19th and 20th centuries? The ethnologist Dr. Beatrix Heintze, who has been researching this at the Goethe University in Frankfurt since the 1960s. Important ethnographic Angola collections in Berlin and Luanda were created under the auspices of colonialism between the 1930s and 1950s for the Ethnological Museum and for the Museu do Dundo in northeast Angola. Its objects now form a large part of the holdings of the Museu Nacional de Antropologia in Luanda. The Ethnological Museum Berlin houses one of the world's oldest and most important collections of Angolan art and material culture.

Beatrix Heintze explained the common research tradition
What about anthropology and museums in Angola? Dr. Ziva Domingos, Director of the National Museums in Angola, presented projects, museums and universities in Angola that work on anthropological topics. It also dealt with the challenges of the museums in Angola, including the training of staff, the preservation of the holdings and the promotion of the museums.
The director Álvaro Jorge and colleague Engrácia Manuel Agostinho de Oliveira reported on the holdings of the Museu Nacional de Antropologia, whose first exhibition opened in 1976. The Museum of Anthropology houses around 6,000 objects.

Álvaro Jorge and Engrácia de Oliveira presented the Museu Nacional de Antropologia
Kristin Weber-Sinn from the Ethnological Museum Berlin gave insights into an exchange project between Tanzania and Germany, in which the aim is to jointly research the “biographies” of the objects.
The restorer Eva Ritz then invited the group to a tour of the museum's depot. Here the objects from Angola were the focus and the professional exchange began immediately. The mandatory protective clothing turned out to be a bit of a hindrance, but also created a sense of hilarity.

The visit to the depot was not only something to talk about, it was also a source of amusement

Wednesday, November 28th: ​​In the restoration workshop

How do restoration and conservation work in a tropical context? An exchange between the experts followed by a visit to the Berlin restoration workshop. Eva Ritz explained the conservation techniques in the Ethnological Museum and made suggestions as to which of them could also be used in Luanda.

 Eva Ritz led through the restoration workshop

How can one deal with the colonial heritage in international cultural exchange? Dr. Andrea Zell, who works for this at the headquarters of the Goethe Institute, reported on artistic discussions about it.

The group then visited the exhibition "Moving Times" in the Gropius-Bau to get an insight into current approaches to exhibition design in Germany. The day ended with a visit to the Konzerthaus Berlin.

Thursday, November 29th: Excursion to Berlin museums

In front of the Humboldt Forum, where the famous Angolan statue of Chibinda Ilunga will soon be on display

After a city tour through the center of Berlin, the delegation got to know one of Germany's major cultural projects, the Humboldt Forum. From 2019, non-European collections are to be exhibited in the rebuilt Berlin Palace, including important objects from Angola. The “Humboldt-Box” and the “Humboldt Forum Highlights” exhibition, with harbingers from the collections on Museum Island, where the Angolan experts got to know the project, provide first insights.

Chibinda Ilunga cast a spell over everyone
One of the highlights was a visit to the Bode Museum. Here European and African objects are currently shown side by side. Among them is one of the most famous works of African art from the Angolan collection: the iconic sculpture of the cultural hero Chibinda Ilunga, who is considered the founder of the Lunda and Chokwe kingdoms.

Paola Ivanov guided through the exhibition

The Angolan delegation was particularly impressed by this statue and the guided tour by PD Dr. Paola Ivanov from the Ethnological Museum developed into a specialist scientific discourse.

The experts discussed the importance of the cultural hero

The experts from Germany and Angola also discussed several other pieces from the exhibition "Incomparable: Art from Africa in the Bode Museum", including the throne of a Chokwe chief (cover picture).

Friday, November 30th: On the way to the action plan - sketches of the cooperation

What are the wishes and perspectives of the cooperation? On the way to an action plan, the partners discussed the goals of their cooperation. For the first year they agreed to exchange information about the collections of both museums, to hold a workshop on conservation and restoration, and to translate important historical, ethnographic documents into Portuguese. Together with relatives from the societies of origin of the objects, artists from Angola and Germany are also to develop a project on the history of the collections and their objects.

On the last day of the workshop, the goals and measures of the cooperation were discussed


about the project

The collaboration between the Goethe-Institut Angola and the ethnological museums in Berlin and Luanda is the result of a collaboration between the German and French embassies in Luanda, the Alliance Française and the Goethe-Institut Angola. In this context, a preparatory workshop for the partners had already taken place in Luanda in May 2018. In a second workshop, which took place from November 26th to 30th at the invitation of the Goethe Institute at the Ethnological Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), the employees of all participating institutions set the goals of their collaboration.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut Angola