PAA Europe, 2019. “Challenging Times: Provenances in Museums” at the Museum der Kulturen Basel, 19th to 21st September

The meeting coincides with the exhibition “Thirst for Knowledge meets Collecting Mania”.

“Museums face challenging times: what seemed a must for an ethnographic museum in the past – such as a collection of skulls – is now a sensitive issue. In collecting, objects were removed from their original contexts, items made of rare and precious materials such as ivory or gold aroused desires, and exotic weapons were acquired by the score. The exhibition explores the motives for this former collecting mania and poses questions as to the appropriate handling of sensitive objects today.” 

                                    PAA E Conference Programme 2019 


Thursday, 19.09.19


09:00 am Arrival & Registration (Tea/Coffee)

09:30 am Welcome speech by director Anna Schmid

10:00 am Wonu Veys (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, the Netherlands)
“Four Hawaiian necklaces (lei niho palaoa) at the National Museum of Wold Cultures”

10:30 am Erna Lilje (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, the Netherlands)
“Unwindings: the many tales of headdress RV-1999-550”




11:30 am Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin (Georg August University of Göttingen)

“How national cultural property ended up in western museums”.

12:00 pm Stephanie Walda-Mandel (Übersee Museum Bremen)

“The Admiralty Islands are already fully grazed “: Collecting for a Museum in Colonial Times and what it means for us today.”


12:30 pm LUNCH BREAK (a list of nearby restaurants will be provided)


14:00 pm Guided tour through the exhibition ‘Thirst for Knowledge meets Collecting Mania’ with Beatrice Voirol.




16:00 pm Talei Si`ilata (University of Auckland)
“‘O le Pale o Laei Samoa’ The Crowning Glory of Samoan Adornment: Decolonising Research, the Museum and the Tuiga”.

16:30 pm Stéphanie Leclerc-Caffarel (Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac)

“An early American collection from Fiji (South Pacific): the ethnographic collection of
 Isaac M. Brower at the Smithsonian Institution (1876)”.

17:00 pm Valentin Boissonnas & Theophile Vergnaud (Haute Ecole Arc Conservation-restauration, Neuchâtel), “Some thoughts on mounting of Aboriginal bark paintings“.



Friday, 20.09.



08:30 am Coffee/Tea

09:00 am Ngarino Ellis (University of Auckland)
Indigenising Provenance Research”.
09:30 am Jennifer Wagelie (Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Davis/CA). “Patu on the Potomac: Problematic Provenance in the Smithsonian’s Māori Collections”.

10:00 am Jacqueline Charles-Rault (Université Le Havre, Normandie)
“A Contemporary Encounter”




11:00 am REPORTS (10 Min. each)

  • Michael Hirschbichler (Universität der Künste Berlin)
    “Mythical Constructions – Cult and Spirit Houses of Papua New Guinea”
  • Joris Visser (Dorotheum) “A Forum on Restitution of Indonesian Objects”

11:30 am Réka Mascher-Frigyesi (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt
& Museum der Kulturen Basel), “The Toi Moko of Basel – A search for traces”.

12:00 pm Beatrice Voirol (Museum der Kulturen Basel)
           & Roberta Colombo Dougoud (
Musée d´éthnographie de Genève) Talking about painted lyia: the delicate endeavour to do provenance research on human remains”.



12:30 pm LUNCH BREAK (a list of nearby restaurants will be provided)


Visit of the museum depots

14:00 pm meeting point at the entrance of the Museum der Kulturen Basel


18:30 pm Conference Dinner at the restaurant Le Rhin Bleu



Saturday, 21.09.


09:30 am Coffee/Tea


10:00 am REPORTS (10 Min. each)

  • Alice Bernadac (Institute national du patrimoine)
    & Marion Bertin (École du Louvre & Université de La Rochelle)
    Oceanic collections in French regional museums”
  • Antje Kelm (Hamburg), “Is Sulka Art at its End?”
  • Anita Herle (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology University of Cambridge) Pacific Currents at MAA An overview of the new Pacific displays at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Cambridge, focusing on the details of provenance in the context of current concerns about de-colonisation”


10:30 am Curator´s cooperation/Networking

12:00 LUNCH BREAK (a list of nearby restaurants will be provided)

Visit of the Fondation Beyeler

13:15 pm meeting point at the entrance of the Museum der Kulturen Basel
14:00 pm Guided tour by art historian Ulf Küster (through the small but exquisite Oceania collection of the Fondation Beyeler)


Call for Paper Information:

We ask for papers on provenance research, colonial history or decolonization in the museum field and in the Pacific.

There are two types of presentations:

30 min paper (20-25 min talk, 5-10 min discussion)

10 min report

Please submit your abstract of 100-200 words for reports and papers to Beatrice Voirol ( by 28th June 2019.

Acceptance will be confirmed by 5th July, allowing time for travel arrangements.

Registration will be open soon.