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The Chair for Modern Art History researches the aesthetic, social, political and institutional constellations that have shaped the production, circulation and consumption of art since the 18th century. Artist training, the transnational history of museums, the art market, the various forms of intellectual and material appropriation of cultural property in times of peace and war: these are some of the topics being researched as part of projects or dissertations.

Re-connecting “Objects”: Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums

The project aims at building transformative practices in dealing with cultural heritage through action-oriented research. Involving three African and two European universities and museums (the Théodore Monod Museum of African Art in Dakar, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford), it strives for new models of engaging with artefacts and immaterial heritage by learning from existing practices on the African continent and by building symmetrical structures for collaboration and exchange. more

Acquisitions made by the Berlin State Museums on the Parisian Art Market during the Occupation 1940-1944


Despite, or precisely because of the German occupation, the French art market was booming from 1940 to 1944. The aim of this project is to systematically and comprehensively reconstruct for the first time the acquisitions made by the Berlin State Museums on the Parisian art market during the German occupation. Based on the acquisitions made by the Berlin State Museums during the occupation, this project will also aim to fill a gap in research on the Parisian art market, by contributing to our knowledge of its central players as well as their networks in the international antiquities trade. more

The Business Relations between the Kunst und Antiquitäten GmbH of the GDR and Western Auction Houses in the Period from 1973 to 1990: Mechanisms – Networks – Objects

Werbeprospekt der Kunst und Antiquitäten GmbH, 1979, Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, SSMB-HA, VI. Sammlung Kunst- und Antiquitäten GmbH

From its foundation in the year 1973 until its close-down shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Kunst und Antiquitäten GmbH exported art objects, antiques and second-hand goods to Western countries to obtain foreign currency. On the one hand, the project will investigate the structures and mechanisms of these transactions as well as the networks of actors and companies involved. On the other hand, objects that were consigned by the Kunst und Antiquitäten GmbH to Western auction houses through direct or indirect channels are to be identified. more

Diplomacy and Objects in European collections of Korean Art(i)facts: Celadons and Export paintings

Chrysanthemum motif decorative celadon bowl, Goryeo period (11th century)

In this data-driven research project, the researchers want to study Korean art and ethnographic objects that became part of European museum collections through diplomatic encounters. The objects in question mostly are either bestowed as diplomatic gifts, gathered during diplomatic missions as well as circulated in “second-hand” diplomatic relations. more

Research Network: Colonial Collections in Berlin Universities


The research network aims to identify colonial contexts in the repositories of Berlin universities and promote a dialogue on ethics of care and the future of these collections. The Mineralogical Collection (TU), the Medical History Museum collection (Charité), the Sound Archive (HU) and the archaeological finds related to the former Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute of Anthropology (FU) have different histories; yet, they raise similar questions: How can these collections help working through colonial history? more

Museums and Society - Mapping the Social


Museums and Society - Mapping the Social ist ein gemeinsames Projekt von Universitäten und Museen in Berlin. Es erforscht Museen als sich wandelnde soziale Räume. Im Projekt arbeiten die Humboldt-Universität Berlin, das Institut für Museumsforschung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, die Technische Universität Berlin und das Museum für Naturkunde Berlin zusammen. mehr

Perzeptionen Ägyptens. Die Zeichnungen der Preußischen Ägypten-Expeditionen (1842-1845)


Karl Richard Lepsius (1810–1884) gilt heute als Begründer der deutschen und Wegbereiter der internationalen Ägyptologie. Als herausragende Ergebnisse seiner dreijährigen, staatlich finanzierten Expedition nach Ägypten und Äthiopien gelten neben den mitgebrachten Objekten, vor allem die vor Ort entstandenen rund 2.000 Zeichnungen, von denen heute noch 1.743 erhalten sind. Eine kunsthistorische Analyse der topografischen Ansichten sowie der später entstandenen Lithografien und Gemälden fragt, ob die Zeichnungen der reinen wissenschaftlichen Dokumentation dienten, oder ob sie nicht vielmehr einem von europäischen Vorstellungen geprägten und damit konstruierten Bild Ägyptens entsprachen. mehr

Repertory: The French Art Market During during German Occupation in World War II


This prosopographic study will identify and research the actors involved in the French art market during the German occupation of France. The project is carried out in cooperation with the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA) in Paris. more

Systematische Erforschung und Rekonstruktion der Adolf-von-Menzel-Sammlung des Bankiers und Kunstsammlers Ludwig Ginsberg


Das einjährige Forschungsprojekt widmet sich der systematischen Überprüfung und Recherche der Adolph von Menzel Sammlung des Berliner Bankiers Ludwig Ginsberg (1873 – 1939) und wird in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Fachbereich Kunstgeschichte der Moderne (Prof. Bénédicte Savoy) durchgeführt. Die umfangreiche Sammlung des graphischen Werkes Menzels umfasste eine Vielzahl seltener Drucke und enthielt Papierarbeiten von zum Teil besonderer Güte und Schönheit. Sie wurde 1930 als die größte Menzel-Sammlung, die sich je in Privatbesitz befunden hat, beschrieben. Die Sammlung Ginsberg wurde in mehreren Margen versteigert und ist heute zum größten Teil verschollen. Bisher sind Werke aus der Sammlung im Kupferstichkabinett Berlin und am Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren aufgetaucht. Beide Museen werden die verfolgungsbedingt in ihre Sammlungen gelangten Werke restituieren. Aufgabe des Projekts ist es zu erforschen, welche Werke die Sammlung umfasste, wann und unter welchen Umständen sie versteigert oder veräußert wurden und wo sich diese heute befinden. mehr

The Restitution of Knowledge


Between 1884 and 1919 thousands of objects, artworks and human remains were shipped from all over the world to museums in Europe. Many of those were acquired during colonial wars or so-called “punitive expeditions”. But what exactly can be called a “punitive expedition”? Can these collections be then considered as trophies or spoils of war? What responsibility do museums have today regarding these looted treasures? What histories of violence are attached to those objects?  more

Reverse History of Collections. An annotated atlas of Cameroon's material heritage in German museums

Blick in die Sammlung des Ethnologischen Museums Berlin

The Cameroonian-German research project explores the forms and consequences of cultural property relocations from the former colony to Germany. To achieve the project's goals, a comprehensive inventory of colonial-era Cameroonian object holdings in German museums as well as their contexts of origin in Cameroon will be undertaken. more

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