Germany presents code of conduct on handling colonial-era artefacts

The Art Newspaper | Catherine Hickley

The German Association of Museums and culture minister Monika Grütters presented a code of conduct for museums on how to handle artefacts acquired in a colonial context, including guidelines for provenance research and responding to restitution claims. Grütters has made addressing the colonial past a priority of her new term in office. She has pledged funding to museums for provenance research of colonial-era acquisitions and has assigned the German Lost Art Foundation to distribute government funding. Though such artefacts are primarily housed in the country’s ethnological museums, the German Association of Museums is urging all museums and universities to examine their collections.

“The colonial era has been a blind spot in our culture of remembrance for too long,” Grütters said in a statement on 14 May. “With these guidelines, the German Association of Museums is presenting a comprehensive contribution to a discussion that doesn’t end here but is only just starting.” The new guidelines come in the wake of an uproar last year over provenance research into artefacts to go on display in the new Humboldt Forum to open in Berlin’s newly reconstructed royal palace next year. The debate in Germany echoes a similar discussion in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to return African artefacts in French museums…read more

Image: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr