Saernieprieve – Dávvirat Duiskkas – gålkoen/goeven 2023
November 20-24, Dávvirat Duiskkas organized its third fact finding trip to museums and heritage institutions in Germany. With Hamburg as a base, we visited the Sámi collections at Lübecker Museen Völkerkundesammlung, Landesmuseum Hannover, and Übersee-Museum in Bremen. In addition we saw the new Sámi exhibition at Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) in Hamburg. As on our two previous fact-finding trips,[i] the travelers were representatives of the steering group and the six Sámi museums in Norway. A representative from the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin was prevented from participating.
On Tuesday November 21, we visited Lübecker Museen Völkerkundesammlung. Lübeck Museum was built as a natural history museum in 1893 but the original building was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt from 1951. Today the foundation counts ten museums. At the Völkerkundesammlung we were received by the staff and Dr. Lars Frühsorge who gave us an introduction to the history of the collection. The Lübeck Sámi collection counts around 90 Sámi objects. A large part has arrived from Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin (now MEK) in 1936, while a large part has been privately owned. The director, Dr. Tilmann von Stockhausen gave us an introduction to the foundation before we all headed down to the storage.
Most of the Lübeck Sámi collection consists of objects made of horn, wood, or metal. Around a dozen objects are garments, footwear, or objects in fur and leather. In contrast to many Sámi collections in German museums hardly any objects seem to be foods or raw material. The oldest objects are a South Sámi gievrie/frame drum, reportedly from the Ångerman River valley in Sweden (Åsele lappmark) – the symbols on the drumskin have recently been reconstructed[i], and three delicate tjåerviebusth/čoarvebasttet/horn spoons that once formed part of the collection of the Lübeck priest and polymath Jacob von Melle (1659-1743).
Indeed, the cabinet where Melle kept some of his curiosities still exists at St. Annen-Museum, also a part of the Lübeck museums. After our visit to the storage, we had lunch at St. Annen Museum with the Völkerkundesammlung staff. This is also where the Völkerkundesammlung has its exhibitions space. Last but not least we were given a a guided tour of St. Annen-Museum with emphasis on the historical connections between Lübeck and Scandinavia.
The early afternoon of November 22 was dedicated to the new Sámi exhibition Eanan Hállá. Sámi Oiannodagat/The Land has a Mind to Speak. Sámi Horizons (08.09.23 – 31.03.24) at Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) in Hamburg. MARKK’s curator for the exhibition, Dr. Anna-Sophie Laug, gave us a guided tour before doing the same for a delegation from the Swedish embassy.
As stated in the catalogue: “With the exhibition [..] MARKK is taking a first step towards the critical reappraisal of the more than 1300 pieces of Sápmi holdings currently stored in the museum’s storage facilities”.[i] In the late afternoon the traveling group met in the hotel for a summary meeting with object review, a regular feature of our fact-finding trips.
Thursday November 23, we visited the Sámi collection of the Landesmuseum in Hannover, originally the Museum für Kunst und Wissenschaft established in 1856. The museum’s ethnological collection consists of around 24 000 objects. These are kept in open storage at Fössestraße some distance off. At Fössestraße we were met by Dr. Claudia Andratschke and staff. Andratschke stepped in with good grace when our contact, Mareike Späth, became ill.
Around 80 objects of the Hannover collection are Sámi. These include garments, household items, tools, a reindeer sleigh, toys, food, food ingredients, and a stuffed reindeer. A few fur and wool garments for children were received in 1912 as a gift from Max Molling (1834 -1910), a Jewish (textile) merchant and founder of a Hannover department store. The sleigh, the only Sámi object that is exhibited, arrived in 1978 from Berlin but is supposed to be very old.
The rest of the collection was bought from the professional collector and ethnographic dealer Julius Konietzko[i] in 1928. Konietzko’s particular way of collecting is clearly spelled out in the collection. It contains several unusual objects such as straws made of swan and duck bone, a hand brush made of bird feather, two fur collars (one made of squirrel fur and the other of bear) as well as various foods, tools, and hunting equipment. In the afternoon we visited the museum, saw the sleigh, and had lunch in the museum café. Dr. Semyon Aron Dreiling, advisor to the director, joined us for lunch.
After lunch we visited the Sámi collection at Übersee-Museum in Bremen. In Bremen we were met by Dr. Renate Noda, Head of the Department of Ethnology and the director, Prof. Dr. Wiebke Ahrndt who gave us an introduction to the museum. As written on the museum’s home pages, the museum combines a collection of ethnology, trade and natural history into a unified experience that is unique in Europe. The museum was established in 1896 and the natural history collection alone consists of more than 1 million objects. The ethnological collection holds about 85 000 objects. The Bremen Sámi collection counts around 25 objects. As we arrived at Übersee-Museum shortly before closing time there was little time for socializing with the museum staff.
Friday November 24 we headed home. Thank you to everyone who facilitated our trip and generously shared their knowledge and experience. This is truly appreciated. The fourth fact-finding trip will take place in spring/early summer, possibly with Frankfurt as the starting point for visiting Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum Kulturen der Welt in Köln, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, and one or two other heritage institutions. We will set a date on our next steering group meeting February 13. Then we will start approaching the museums and heritage institutions in question.
[i] Eanan Hállá. Sámi Oiannodagat. Das Land Spricht. Sámi Horizonte. The Land has a Mind to Speak. Sámi Horizons. [Catalogue]. Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK). Hamburg. 2023.
[ii] Svein Leiros (Center of northern peoples), Ingvild Bjørnå Pettersen (Varanger Sami Museum), Lisa Dunfjeld-Aagård (Saemien Sijte), Ellen Bals (RiddoDuottarMuseat), Oddmund Andersen (Árran), Kjersti Myrnes Balto (Várdobáiki), Janne Hansen (Norwegian Sámi Parliament/Steering group), Sunneva Sætevik (Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality/Steering group), Birgitta Fossum (steering group leader), Cathrine Baglo (project leader).