An object of real value? Transformation from Adu Satua to Idol to Ar 006
In March 2019, the German Museums Association published “Guidelines for German Museums: Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts”.1 The association urged museums to research the provenance of holdings originating from colonial contexts, and, based on their findings, to work with communities of...
|Handling Religious Things. The Material and the Social in Museums (Band 09)
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|In March 2019, the German Museums Association published “Guidelines for
German Museums: Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts”.1 The association
urged museums to research the provenance of holdings originating from colonial
contexts, and, based on their findings, to work with communities of origin,
e.g. for the exchange of knowledge, joint projects or the return of objects.2 The
guidelines also list a number of points that are of special importance, including
missionaries and their activities in colonies.3 The Museum of Religions (Religionskundliche
Sammlung, RS) at Philipps-University Marburg is a valuable platform
for researching such objects because Heinrich Frick, a former director of the RS,
explicitly asked Protestant missionaries to donate objects to the museum. From
1931 to 1941, Frick regularly published the Supplement for Studies on Religions
(Religionskundliches Beiblatt, RB), in which he called on both the Rhenish Missionary
Society at Wuppertal-Barmen and the Basel Mission to donate “mission
art”4 as well as religious objects that had lost their ritual use after their owners
had converted to Christianity. Missionaries around the world reacted by sending
objects, photographs, and narratives that they had collected while living in Asia,
Oceania or Africa. At the RS, these objects became part of the ‘foreign sacred
sites’ (‘Fremde Heiligtümer’) collection, a term that was also the title of the first
RS exhibition in 1929.