Wissens(Ein)Speicherungen © Anna Pfau, TFM 2020

There is no other place where the transformation from artefact to museum object is so perceptible as in the depots of museums. Separated from their original function and meaning, collected from the most diverse contexts, the artefacts, as newly acquired ‘collection pieces’, undergo an extensive process of ordering and systematising between arrival and storage.

Whereas in the past it was the hand-written or typewritten inventory cards on which all existing or supposedly important information was collected, today it is mostly databases in which ‘the knowledge about the objects’ is recorded, structured, stored and managed, if possible using standardised, so-called ‘controlled’ vocabulary.

Colonialism and Puppetry

(Be)Deutungen © Anna Pfau, TFM 2020

But who ‘controls’ the information that was and is generated, documented and archived? Who determines the allocation of the objects, for example to a certain region, time, form of play, a certain piece, to performers or artists? What if the set pieces of immaterial culture go beyond the usual word lists, systematics, typologies and thesauri? What if the objects cannot be classified, if original functions and meanings cannot be broken down? (because contexts of meaning and use from the respective ‘societies of origin’ cannot be ‘interpreted’)?

The museums’ depots are not only places where objects are stored. They are storage sites of cultural heritage. The ‘stored knowledge’ has to be questioned again and again and renegotiated together with the respective experts. Only in this way can further access be made possible and diverse knowledge spaces opened up – and thus a transformation of museums from ‘content provider’ to ‘platform provider’ succeed, as Nina Simon demanded in her book The Participatory Museum in 2008.

Wer spricht? © Anna Pfau, TFM 2020

Audio collage ‘Who’s talking?’

Who is involved in the process of classifying? What knowledge do all the actors transfer to the puppets? And where is the knowledge of the actual experts? The puppet designers and villagers, for whom the puppet was made? Where is the knowledge of the ‘societies of origin’?


Find out what it means to remove things from their original contexts.


What does the labeling of things say about our relationship with them? Who talks about them? In the this audiovisual room we try to decipher the voices.


Colonialism and Puppetry. Untangeling the Strings. Dr. Antonia Napp presents the virtual exhibition.


Explore the path of an artefact in our museum.


In this new chapter we will continue to explore the path of an artefact in our museum. By coming into the collection, it has been separated from its performative context and from its society of origin; it may even stand alone as a testimony to a cultural practice...

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Fragmente von Performativität © Anna Pfau, TFM 2020 "The museums regard the objects as their treasure. I always hear that it is a collection and 'it was collected'. But these things are not just lying around on the street and can be picked up like a handkerchief and...

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Colonialism and Puppet Theatre - Untangling the Strings

A virtual exhibition of the Theaterfigurenmuseum Lübeck

Idea and concept: Antonia Napp, Sonja Riehn

inspired by the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas within the framework of the project "Transition/Days. Understanding colonialism, overcoming colonialism?" of the Lübeck Theatre.

Texts: Antonia Napp, Sonja Riehn

Graphic: Anna Pfau

Implementation and social media: Charlotta Paetow

Press contact: info@theaterfigurenmuseum.de