Humboldt Lab Tanzania

Exhibition research in Dar es Salaam and Berlin – funded by the TURN Fund

Project description

In the historic heart of Berlin, curators are busy developing the new Humboldt Forum in the reconstructed Berlin Castle which features a unique combination of art, culture, education and science. The premises will also house the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art. Between 2012 and 2015, the Humboldt Lab Dahlem provided pioneering impulses for post-colonial exhibition concepts for the future Humboldt Forum.

In the project titled “Humboldt Lab Tanzania”, the Ethnological Museum in Berlin was expanding on this idea, collaborating with curators, artists and scholars from Tanzania to develop an exhibition concept that experimented with new ethnological and museological approaches to their mutual colonial heritage. The project focused on material culture in the form of artefacts and objects, and aimed to generate new narratives. This research-oriented project showcased objects which were seized by German colonial forces in skirmishes against anti-colonial resistance fighters between 1885 and 1918. Today these artefacts are still stored in the depository of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Due to the construction work on the Humboldt Forum, these collections have become the centre of increasing attention.

The new formats were developed in cooperation with Tanzanian artists, the Bookstop Sanaa Art Library, the Nafasi Art Space, the University of Dar es Salaam, and the National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam. These was accompanied by conferences, workshops, seminars and touring exhibitions. The final touring exhibition “Living inside the Story” was presented first in Tanzania at the National Museum in Dar es Salaam, the University of Dar es Salaam and the Maji Maji Memorial Museum in Songea. Later it will be installed at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin as a permanent exhibition.

A trilingual publication (external link, opens in a new window) about the project in Swahili, German and English was published in June 2018.

Artistic director: Sarita Mamseri (TZ), Curator: Dr. Lili Reyels (D/TZ), Project directors: PD Dr. Paola Ivanov / Dr. Lili Reyels

Dates and venues

  • 22 Sep. – 2 Oct. 2016 research trip by members of the University of Dar es Salaam to south Tanzania
  • 13 – 20 Oct. 2016 research trip by Tanzanian artist group to Berlin
  • 22. Nov. 2016 conference at the Goethe-Institut Tanzania
  • 31 Jan. 2017 exhibition at a public venue in Dar es Salaam, jointly developed by German and Tanzanian artists
  • 3.2.-10.2.2017 Heritage Building, Department of Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam
  • 25.2.2017 Maji Maji Memorial Museum Songea

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.

More about the TURN Fund (opens in a new window)


Ethnologisches Museum Berlin

Arnimallee 27
14195 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)