Opportunities and Challenges of Cooperative Provenance Research
Lars Müller, Landesmuseum Hannover
The dealing with colonial collections is currently being challenged both by interest groups in Europe and by representatives of African countries. The panel will address the question of how to respond to this challenge collaboratively and what opportunities arise for future work.
During the colonial period, the collections of ethnological museums grew massively. For some years now, the way these collections are handled in Europe have been increasingly the subject of discussion and criticism. They have been challenged by interest groups in Europe, but above all by representatives of the countries and societies of origin: They demand e.g. the restitution of objects, access to the collections and, above all, more transparency. In response, the museums and museum associations have presented guidelines for dealing with these objects, the political side has published a “Key Issues Paper on Dealing with Colonial Collections” and national funding has been provided for Provenance Research. On a practical level, cooperative (research) projects and cooperations with the societies of origin have been initiated. We invite contributors for papers on the opportunities and the challenges this work faces: What is the respective interest in the collections and in the cooperation? How can cooperation be structured and what are the problems in working together? How can research results be brought back into the current debate? What resources are available on both sides? How can access to the collections be provided?
We also ask how to deal with the cooperation on level of the researchers – how to develop a common understanding of provenance research? How to develop a base on that we can work on an eye to eye level? How to deal with emotions? Next to these challenges we also want to discuss what potential lies in cooperation between European museums and societies of origin: How and what can we learn about the objects? How can we bring a new meaning to the objects? What can we learn about the future dealing with the objects? And how can we establish new long-term cooperations for the future – even besides the provenance research?