Dr. Eva Raabe, director of the Weltkulturen Museum

At the weekend, the Weltkulturen Museum was targeted in an act of  protest that was, according to the stencilled lettering left behind, ‘anti-colonial’. In light of the red smears made by paint bombs on the facade of the exhibitions villa at Schaumainkai 29, this supplementary explanation was absolutely necessary. Without it, there might have been the assumption that it was an aggressively racist act, for all the paint bombs were more or less aimed at an exhibition banner announcing a project by the co-curators of the current exhibition. In this project by an artists’ collective with its roots in modern-day East Indonesia, Moluccan-Dutch women comment on their cultural roots and the consequences of colonial structures.

As the protest action was anonymous, we can only speculate about who or what it was directed at: against our Moluccan-Dutch partners? It can, however, be assumed that whoever did this has probably not explored the critically reflexive contents of the exhibition Worlds in Motion: Narrating Migration in any respect. Or was the Weltkulturen Museum as a whole the target? What is supposedly being criticised: its origins or its work?

The staff at the Weltkulturen Museum are well aware that parts of the museum’s collections were acquired in the colonial era, and that it was established as an institution during this period, in 1904. It is precisely for this reason that the Weltkulturen Museum critically examines issues such as colonial heritage, racism and sensitive collection holdings. The exhibition Entre Terra E Mar was staged in collaboration with an Afro-Brazilian artist and concerned the consequences of slavery and colonial exploitation. Collected Bought Looted? transparently addressed the sensitive background context of the acquisition of colonial era items in the collections. The museum has just produced a film made in cooperation with First Nations Canadians and is engaged in an ongoing process of exchange with Indigenous activists. Moreover, it has curated an exhibition in conjunction with Sea-Watch. Since as far back as the 1970s, when the importance of colonialism and racism as issues had not yet been acknowledged, the Weltkulturen Museum has been committed to contemporary art that enables Indigenous artists to express their post-colonial experiences in Frankfurt, too.

We would like to invite the originators of this anti-colonial protest action to participate in a dialogue. A public debate generates far more attention for a good cause than anonymous vandalism.