In order to minimise the spread of the coronavirus all museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden remain closed until 20 April 2020.
In 1732, the missionaries of the Moravian Church in Herrnhut began to bring back objects from their remote journeys, building in this way the founding collection of the Völkerkundemuseum Herrnhut. Today, the museum holds approximately 7,000 objects, most of which entered the collection between 1878 and 1940.
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[Translate to English:] Sammler und Missionare
The permanent exhibition, which was opened in 2003, is entitled Ethnography and the Herrnhut Mission. At the heart of the exhibition are approximately 1200 objects from those peoples among whom the Moravian Church missionaries were active from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Also, individual missionaries are showcased with a view to their ethnographic activities and their valuable missionary writings. For example, in the south of Africa, the Herrnhut native Georg Schmidt was active as the first Protestant missionary among the Khoikhoi from 1738 to 1744.
[Translate to English:] Einmal um die Welt
Besides the African continent and Australia, other missionary destinations were today’s Republic of Kalmykia, Greenland, Alaska, Labrador, Nicaragua as well as Suriname and the Virgin Islands, on whose Saint Thomas Island missionary work began in 1732. In the north Indian Himalayas as well, they established mission stations in the Lahoul District in 1856 and in Ladakh in 1885. Here, they made great accomplishments in the fields of linguistics and religious studies.
[Translate to English:] Höhepunkte der Sammlung
Among the highlights of the collection are Buddhist ritual objects from a temple yurt of West Mongolian Kalmyks in southern Russia – a rarity in European museums – as well as 36 ethnographical objects from the South Pacific and from the northwest American coast, which were collected during the third voyage of the English captain and explorer James Cook (1728–1779).
To highlight particular themes, special exhibitions at the museum are developed using items held in storage. These exhibitions may also incorporate private travellers’ ethnographic collections and photographs, and they present opportunities for collaborations with other institutions.