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Project information

Project team

Heinz Peter Brogiato, Bruno Schelhaas; Lars Müller


Museumsverband Sachsen-Anhalt; Museum Burg Querfurt

Duration of project

01/2022 – 12/2022

Funded by

Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste

Further information

Dr Heinz Peter Brogiato
+40 341 600 55-126

The Africa Traveller Hans Schomburgk – Collecting to Show

Acquisition contexts of ethnological objects in the first half of the 20th century

Heiligenfigur mit Holzstütze, Liberia, vor 1900. Schomburgk brachte die sehr seltene Seifenstein-Plastik eines liberianischen Reisgötzen wahrscheinlich 1912 mit. Foto: P. Wittmann

Based on the Schomburgk collection of ethnological objects at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography and the Museum Burg Querfurt, the project aims to systematically analyse the African explorer's collecting practice. With his sales and mediations of ethnological and zoological objects to German and international zoos, his feature films and documentaries, his adventure stories in books and lecture tours, Hans Schomburgk (1880–1967) was one of the most influential mediators of knowledge about Africa in Germany, especially in the first half of the 20th century.

Schomburgk travelled to Africa between 1897 and 1958 in various roles – as a military man, big game hunter and animal trapper, explorer, animal or documentary filmmaker. Collecting was not the main reason for the trips. However, correspondence between Schomburgk and the Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt, or MARKK for short, suggests that he enquired before his travels which objects and film footage museums would be interested in. Among the surviving objects are a number of everyday objects, but several objects suggest contexts of injustice or ethically and morally questionable collecting activities.

The project is divided into four sub-steps:

  • Evaluation of existing information in the respective collections as well as in documents describing Schomburgk's activities.
  • Analysis of Schomburgk's publications (books, films)
  • Exchange with representatives of the societies of origin (focus on Western Africa)
  • Transfer of the results obtained to an interested public (school, exhibition)