Institute of Ethnology, University of Göttingen
Theaterplatz 15
37073 Göttingen

Opening hours/access
The Ethnographic collection is currently not accessible due to renovation work on the building. 

Dr. Michael Kraus
Nicole Zornhagen M.A.

Tel.: +49 (0551) 39-27892

The Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen is one of the most important teaching and research collections in the German-speaking world. Its beginnings date back to the time of the late Enlightenment. The collection is a regular part of university education and the basis of research projects. Selected parts of the collection are accessible to the public through permanent and special exhibitions.

History of the collection:

Ethnographica formed an important part of the Academic Museum of the Georg-August University (1773-1840). The most important collections include the Cook/Forster (Oceania) and Baron von Asch (Siberia and Alaska) collections. After the dissolution of the Academic Museum, the collection was alternately administered by specialists in medicine, geography and zoology and led a shadowy existence for a long time. In 1928, ethnological teaching began in Göttingen. In 1934, the third chair for ethnology in Germany was established here. In 1935, the "Ethnographic Collection" and the "Seminar for Ethnology" were merged to form the "Institute for Ethnology". Purchases and donations led to a rapid growth of the collection. After 1950, objects were also acquired specifically on the basis of field research by Göttingen ethnologists.

Total number of objects:
Approx. 18,000 

Partial collections/convolutes:

  • America (approx. 5.000 Objekte),
  • Africa (approx. 4.900),
  • Oceania (approx. 4.300),
  • Asia (approx. 2.700),
  • Europe, Image collection (photos, copperplate engravings, paintings), museum education objects (approx. 160)

Development status:
The objects are recorded in inventory books. Archival records are accessible via a finding aid. A four-volume, regionally arranged index of the collection holdings was published between 1988 and 1993 (Schlesier, Erhard and Manfred Urban (eds.). Verzeichnis der Völkerkundlichen Sammlung des Instituts für Völkerkunde der Georg-August-Universität zu Göttingen). Partial holdings as well as individual objects have been published in numerous catalogues (e.g. Hauser-Schäublin Krüger (ed.). James Cook, Munich, New York 1998. Hauser-Schäublin, Krüger (eds.): Siberia and Russian America, Munich et al. 2007).

State of digitalisation:
Approx. 97% of the holdings are digitally recorded, approx. 6% of which have a digital image. Approx. 2% of the holdings are currently accessible online (as of 11/2016).

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