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The Ethnographic Collection’s History

The beginnings of the Ethnographic Collection date back to the 1920s. At the time, the Department of Geography had plans to establish an ethnological teaching collection. The official decision that marked the beginning of the Collection was reached in 1925, and the first objects arrived four years later on loan from the Berlin Ethnological Museum.

In the 1950s, Martin Block (1891-1972), who held the first chair for Ethnology in Marburg, oversaw the formal institutionalization of the then Ethnological Collection as an independent university institution. In 1958, the Collection was for the first time listed in the course schedule for the summer semester. The initial inventory of about 600 objects continued to grow through purchases and donations. When Horst Nachtigall was chair of Ethnology (1963-1988), he established the Ethnology Department in supplement to the Collection.

For a long time, Collection and Seminar were housed inside a building that was called the “Kugelhaus” (1971-2014). Here, the Collection was opened to the public for the first time in 1979 with changing exhibitions. This established a tradition that was continued and expanded under Mark Münzel (1989-2008).

Ernst Halbmayer became the head of the Ethnological Collection in 2008 and has continued the work of his predecessors. In the context of the Institute’s move, the Collection was transferred to its current location in 2014. In 2018, the Collection was renamed Ethnographic Collection.