Ethnographic Collecting in "Neumecklenburg" During the German Colonial Period - a Research Project in Cooperation with New Ireland/Papua New Guinea

Funding area:
Colonial contexts
Funding recipient:
Übersee-Museum Bremen
Federal state:
Type of project:
long-term project

New Ireland, called "Neumecklenburg" from 1884 to 1914, is a province in the present-day state of Papua New Guinea. During the German colonial period, it was one of those regions whose cultural assets, especially carvings, were highly valued and therefore collected in museums. The so called "Schutzgebiet"(protected area) did not have "Schutztruppen"(protection troops) like the African colonies. Punitive expeditions were sometimes carried out by the German emperors navy and police troops, including in "Neumecklenburg". The area was regarded as a labour reservoir. Men and women were made to work on plantations, sometimes by force. Consequently, the relations between locals and Germans in colonial New Ireland were quite conflictual.

The Uebersee-Museum has established contacts in New Ireland. It would like to examine its 716-item collection from the province with regard to its provenance and the question of how the above-mentioned historical context affected the collecting itself. The project will cooperate with a master carver and his student from New Ireland, who are invited to Bremen as guests. In addition, it is planned to connect with people in the province via social media in order to gather information regarding the collecting. Based on the knowledge gained in this project, the question of restitution of New Ireland's cultural belongings could be discussed in dialogue with the societies of origin.

(c) Überseemuseum Bremen