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Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg

Visit one of the most extensive ethnological libraries in germany

The reference library, with an extensive inventory of old and new ethnological literature, is accessible to all visitors of the museum. The visitors are invited to browse and explore these unique volumes in the beautiful, original rooms of the library.

The Library about 1925 and today; Photos: Brigitte Saal and Archiv Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg

In addition to its unique and beautiful rooms, the library of the museum offers extensive literature about ethnology, ethnic studies, ethno-medicine, religious and economic anthropology, art, material culture, archaeology and culture history of non- European cultures. It also includes technical literature on the educational function of museums and museology. Furthermore, you will find old and new travel literature and Kulturknigge (guidebooks to intercultural behaviour), cookbooks and even several ethnological novels. As one of the largest ethnologically specialized libraries in Germany, the library of the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg is itself an important contribution to the understanding of foreign cultures. The inventory of travel journals- the foundation of the library- consisted of about 8,000 volumes in 1911. Among them are volumes dating back to the 16th century that still are part of the collection today. Another noteworthy characteristic of the library is the multilingualism of the literature, reaching from Farsi to Korean to Pashto.
Mainly in Hamburg, although partly spread throughout Germany, this multilingual library is one of the most extensive German ethnologically specialized libraries. The collection of the library is of inestimable scientific value. Especially exceptional are the approx. 3,000 volumes on Oceania and witchcraft as well as travel journals and colonial literature dating back before 1914. Other important themes are migrant labour, Afro-Brazilian cult, North American Indians and the culinary arts. Altogether, about 80,000 volumes and about 100 current magazines invite the interested visitor to browse and explore.

Opening hours of the library
Thurs-Sun 13 – 18 p.m. or by appointment.

Information and loan
phone: 040. 42 88 79-601

The library is closed annually in August and between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Jantje Bruns (Management)
phone: 040. 42 88 79-518

Elisabeth Quenstedt (Management)
phone: 040. 42 88 79-691

Cristina Glowatz
phone: 040. 42 88 79-518

Frauke Wohlers (trainee)
Telefon: 040. 42 88 79 691