A bit late to the party perhaps, but earlier this week the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart (Germany) has launched an online database of its holdings. Before you get all excited, please be aware that for now the ‘Sampling digital’, as it is called, only contains 2,000 records. With more than 160,000 objects in storage, they are only getting started and probably will need another 10-15 years to finish the whole project. As the museum is famous for its early collections of material of the former German colonies, it is a true treasure trove. Personally, I can’t wait for more objects to be made available online. As for Africa is concerned, for now it are mostly items from Namibia that are already accessible. As with the pipe below, collectors might recognise the typical Linden Museum label, which can be still be found on many objects the museum sold or traded that now circulate on the art market.
Notwithstanding the fact that only a fraction of the objects are already online, it must be said the website presents one of the best museum databases around in our field. It is packed with information. Especially on the precise provenance of the objects the database is very strong, and goes much further than merely having the classical single line of provenance. Indeed, in the press conference for the launch of the website, it was explicitly stated that it wishes to create transparency in questions of provenance. You can explore the database here.
As you’ll see the website is easy to navigate, and lets visitors even download free HD images of the objects. In a twist of German humor it also features a DAY & NIGHT version, I’ll let you discover yourself what that functionality does. I do love the ‘World Map’ option to geographically search on the globe to find the objects you are looking for – how intuitive and innovative! I’m delighted to see such an old school ethnological museum leading the way digitally.
PS a good example of the thorough provenance research the museum is doing, is this story about the below enigmatic figure from Cameroon. A must read!