“Collections from Colonial Contexts” online portal launched
FIZ Karlsruhe and the DDB provide the technical platform, the content is generated by the participating museums.
30 November, 2021 – Today the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library) has launched the “Collections from Colonial Contexts” online portal at the URL ccc.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de. Collections from colonial contexts of 25 pilot institutions are now available online within the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. The plan is to expand the portal from this preliminary prototype into a central, comprehensive publishing platform for information on collections from colonial contexts at German cultural and knowledge institutions.
For now, the portal is available in German and English with information on around 8,000 records of collections from colonial contexts, although most descriptions are initially only available in German. In a subsequent step, relevant data that is already included in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek will be designated as “collections from colonial context”, making this data likewise retrievable via the portal in future. The aim is to expand the portal to additional languages and incorporate data from more cultural and knowledge institutions
The new portal’s development traces back to the “3-road strategy on the documentation and digital publication of collections from colonial contexts in Germany”, which was agreed in October 2020 by the German Federal government, the Länder and the municipal umbrella organisations. The objective of the “3‑road strategy” is to establish maximum transparency in regard to collections from colonial contexts. The development of the portal that has been launched today is funded by the Federal Government from the budget for culture and media.
Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Prof. Monika Grütters: “Maximum transparency is an important barometer of the responsible handling of collections from colonial contexts in our museums and institutions. It is the benchmark of our credibility and the cornerstone of a future-facing dialogue with the countries and societies of origin about how these objects should be handled in the future, which includes returns. The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek’s new online portal is the next important step in this direction and will be followed by further steps with Federal Government support.”
The “3-road strategy” was agreed at the 13th Cultural Policy Summit on 14 October 2020 with the involvement of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office, the cultural ministers and senators for culture of the Länder and representatives of the municipal umbrella organisations.
Dr. Klaus Lederer, Senator of Culture and Europe in Berlin and Chair of the Conference of Cultural Ministers: “I applaud the political willingness at all levels of government in Germany to commit to transparent handling of collections from colonial contexts. The portal will significantly promote transparency in regard to collection holdings across Germany and serve as an important basis for further dialogue with the countries and societies of origin about returning objects. The restitution of looted cultural objects remains an important component of our engagement with our colonial legacy.”
Dr. Andreas Görgen, Head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office: “Transparency is an essential factor for joint dialogue. The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is an outstanding partner for this endeavour. It is expanding the ranks of those laying the groundwork for returns. We look forward to the collaboration!”
Prof. Hermann Parzinger, holder of multiple honorary doctorates, spokesperson of the Board of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek and President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation): “I am delighted that the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek has been entrusted with this complex task. With its extensive experience in consolidating heterogeneous holdings from a broad range of cultural institutions, the library is capable of establishing important technical prerequisites for transparent access to collections from colonial contexts.”