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The Ethnological Museum in Berlin contains 8,000 objects from present-day Tanzania. There were acquired – often violently – during the time of German and British colonial rule.
The objects, now found in museum storage, belong(ed) to whom and where? What stories do they hold that have not yet been told? Should these objects still be exhibited in Berlin today? What gaps do we encounter when dealing with these topics?
The exhibition “Empty showcases” ventures the following: the showcases in the exhibition are in fact not empty, but the original objects in them cannot be seen either.
The guided tour through the exhibition deals with the origin of some objects, their histories, questions of restitution and the handling of sensitive objects in exhibitions today.
Questions regarding gaps in archiving, historiography and our own perceptions are always at the forefront. How can we even exhibit objects that were violently acquired?