Beyond the Metropolis. Provincial Museums, Collections and Sociabilities between Europe, Africa and the Americas during the Long Nineteenth Century

Beyond the Metropolis. Provincial Museums, Collections and Sociabilities between Europe, Africa and the Americas during the Long Nineteenth Century

Prof. Dr. Irina Podgorny (La Plata/Gotha); Prof. Dr. Nathalie Richard (Le Mans); Prof. Dr. Iris Schröder (Erfurt/Gotha)
Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt, Schloßberg 2, 99867 Gotha
Vom - Bis
13.02.2019 - 15.02.2019
Philipp Metzler

The history of museums has gained wide attention. Museums are perfect showcases of the manifold ways in which people approach their own particular present or past as well as the natural world by putting it on display. Especially when it comes to exploring the making of the nineteenth-century global world, museums have been studied as being crucial parts of Western centers of calculation. However, the landscape of nineteenth-century museums and collections is certainly much wider, more nuanced and complex than the current historiography, centered on the metropolitan collections assembled by northern Europe’s colonial powers, has suggested. Museums and collections generated and channeled a flow of data, natural specimens and artifacts that through their relationship with people, travelled to diverse places, and in a variety of directions. This has often been overlooked, so that many important movements remain almost invisible up to now. Against this background, the workshop organizers suggest a change of perspective, proposing to explore those many collections that came to less central cities and institutions which up to now have largely remained out of historians’ purview. We aim at furthering our understanding of the diverse ways in which these collections connected places and people in most unexpected ways and generated new sociabilities. This workshop thus focuses on museums and collections in the so-called peripheries: the colonial and post-colonial territories, and the European provinces. It will focus on natural history collections and will highlight how artifacts, plants and substances, through their relationship with people, travelled and connected the world from the nineteenth up to the beginning of the twentieth century, creating networks that were not necessarily centralized around either the European metropolises or the respective national museums. We deem it worthwhile, to study museums, as well as these collections and the sociabilities that go with them beyond the metropolis.
The workshop will take the example of Gotha, its collections and museums, as a case study and departure point (Eberle 2014). It will explore the flow of data as well as the movements of humans and things, it will problematize the traditional center/periphery bias of museum studies and juxtapose alternative approaches also in order to introduce previously understudied global narratives in order to shape future research agendas.

The workshop will be sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Contact & Registration:


Wednesday, 13th February 2019

1:15 p.m.

Iris Schröder (Erfurt/Gotha)
Tobias Pfeifer-Helke (Gotha)

2 p.m.
Collections, Science and the Politics of Representation: The Gotha Case

A Guided Tour to Friedenstein Castle and its Collection with Ute Däberitz, Anna-Maria Hünnes, Tom Hübner, Carsten Eckert

6 p.m.
Fossils and Reputations. Geological Collections and Collectors in 19th Century Italy

Pietro Corsi (Oxford)

Thursday, 14th February 2019

9-10:15 a.m.
Guided Tour to the Perthes Collection

10: 45 a.m.
General Introduction

11 a.m.
Provincial Museums and the Many Geographies of 19th Century Natural History and Anthropology

Irina Podgorny (La Plata/Gotha), From Auvergne to the Pampas. Auguste Bravard and the Collection of Tertiary Fossil Mammals
Iris Schröder (Erfurt/Gotha), Collecting Birds, Making Maps: Theodor von Heuglin’s Itineraries between Adua, Gotha and Vienna and the Economies of Collecting Data and Natural History Specimen
Sebastian Dorsch (Erfurt), Emilio Goeldi vs Henri Coudreau: Making World Politics by Collecting and Connecting Geographic Knowledge in Pará (Brasil), Gotha (Germany) and St. Gallen (Switzerland)

2:30 p.m.
Collections, Practices of Exchange and the Politics of Attention

Stefanie Gänger (Cologne), Rediscovering the Incas. Collecting Antiquities in the Southern Andes
Maria Margaret Lopes (Brasilia), Displaying the Fauna of Deep Time. Paleontological Collections in Brazil in the Beginning of the 20th Century
Serge Reubi (Paris), Of Guayaki Artefacts, a Dalmatic, and a La Tène Axe. François Machon, his Son, and the Musée d’Ethnographie de Neuchâtel, 1920-1940

5 p.m.
Guided Tour to Gotha Research Library

Friday, 15th February 2019

9:30 a.m.
A World of Knowledge and Sociabilities

Miruna Achim (Mexico City), Networking Latin American Antiquities: Humboldt and Enlightened Amateurs in New Spain
Bénédicte Percheron (Rouen), The Politics of Giving: Donors and the Natural History Museum in 19th Century Rouen
Nathalie Richard (Le Mans), Visiting the Miln Museum of Carnac: Archaeological Collections and Sociability in Rural France before 1914

11:30 a.m.
Final Discussion

Introductory Statement by Sybilla Nikolow (Berlin)


Elisa Schaarschmidt

Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt, Schloßberg 2, 99867 Gotha