Insights into the History of the Collection

The Benefactors' Roll of Honour Project

Benefactors’ Roll of Honour, Museum Natur und Mensch, photo: Axel Killian

In the foyer of the Museum Natur und Mensch there is a large marble plaque dating back to the early years of the institution's establishment. It is the only extant architectural and historical witness to the museum's eventful history. It lists twenty-seven founders and benefactors and, as an expression of gratitude, includes their names on this roll of honour in recognition of their donations and bequests to the ethnological and/or natural history collections of the Museum für Natur- und Völkerkunde, founded in 1895.

But who were these individuals? And what was their relationship to the museum? Since 2015, a comprehensive media station situated next to the roll of honour provides background information on the benefactors listed there: brief biographies, their respective connections to the museum and their donations. Visitors can learn more about the life stories relating to the collections and, in particular, discover more about the interconnections surrounding and background to German colonial history, as well as about the collections themselves assembled in the former German colonies for the Freiburg Museum.

The content of the media station has been developed within the framework a collaborative historical research project together with students of anthropology at the University of Freiburg, as well as in conjunction with the historian, Markus Himmelsbach, M.A.