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Invisible Inventories: Questioning Kenyan Collections in Western Museums

How can we make Kenyan cultural assets that are possessed by institutions in the Global North accessible to present-day Kenyan society. This question is addressed by the International Inventories Programme, which brings together Kenyan and European artists and scholars.

The core aim of the project is to develop a database of all Kenyan objects in European and North American museums. A visualisation of this database will now be presented along with further scholarly and artistic contributions to the project in the exhibition “Invisible Inventories”, held at the three participating museums.

The works include explorations of specific Kenyan objects from the collections of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum and the Weltkulturen Museum, as well as the ways in which these objects are culturally interlinked, and how in each case they were appropriated by museums in the Global North. Rather than focusing on concrete issues about restitution there is an emphasis on creating a forum for investigating individual objects at an intellectual and emotional level. The exhibition also deals with the psychological and political consequences of the loss or absence of certain objects from the society in which they were created.

  1. Curators
    Julia Friedel, Leonie Neumann, Frauke Gathof (Germany) 
  2. Participating scholars and artists
    The Nest Collective: Jim Chuchu, Njoki Ngumi (Kenya)
    SHIFT collective: Sam Hopkins (Kenya/Great Britain), Marian Nur Goni (France), Simon Rittmeier (Germany)
    Nairobi National Museum: Lydia Nafula, Philemon Nyamanga, George Juma Ondeng’, Njeri Gachihi, Lydia Galavu and the Tuzi collective (Kenia)
    Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum: Clara Himmelheber (Germany)
  3. Adress, Opening hours, Prices
    Weltkulturen Labor
    Schaumainkai 37
    60594 Frankfurt am Main

    €3.50 / reduced €1.50
    Children and young adults up to 18 years free

    Opening times
    Tues – Sun, 11am – 6pm
    Wed, 11am – 8pm


In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Nairobi


Funded by