Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg

We've counted! Treasure hunting in the Museum für Völkerkunde

In 2008, the fiscal authorities of Hamburg commissioned the Museum für Völkerkunde to count the entire number of objects of the museum and to assign values to them, for the balance of the city of Hamburg. The starting signal was given in November of 2008: About 450,000 objects from various external depositories of the museum and archives on Rothenbaumchaussee have had to be unpacked, registered and brought together. This has all taken place at a new depository in the south of Hamburg ensuring better conservation capacities.

Taking Inventory in the museum? No, treasure hunting in the museum!

Sea chests and cardboard boxes, bags and folders have all been transported to the central depository in the south of Hamburg. According to strict safety precautions, chests that have been locked for decades are opened to reveal unimaginable objects. Hereby, safety is of the highest importance –no one knows what condition these objects might be in.

A great number of objects were lost in the two world wars and many have not been registered during various reconstruction periods of the building. As a consequence, they are not stored at their original place in the depository and thus need to be located. The entire scientific staff of the museum, assisted by support personnel, is currently in the process of recovering the objects and comparing the findings with the old inventory lists and databases and making adjustments. Every so often, the experts come across rare and valuable objects that were long thought lost.
In collaboration with museum technicians, carpenters have developed special mobile tables to speed the inventory taking.
This large inventory check is in effect a great opportunity. The museum will gain an extensive knowledge of its own inventories and will be thus able to plan exhibitions with entirely new contents.