Museum der Kulturen Basel: Expeditions. The World in a Suitcase, as From 29 June 2012

| June 27, 2012

BASEL, Switzerland, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – The era from the end of the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century was the heyday of anthropological expeditions. Scholars from Basel too set out to study foreign cultures, bringing home with them rich collections of artefacts. The exhibition Expeditions. The World in a Suitcase follows on the trail of four of these journeys.

The exhibition Expeditions. The World in a Suitcase takes the visitors on four of journeys: with Paul and Fritz Sarasin to Sri Lanka (Ceylon 1883-86; 1890; 1902; 1907; 1925); with Felix Speiser toVanuatu (New Hebrides, 1910-12); with Alfred Bühler to Indonesia and East Timor (1935); and with Paul Hinderling and René Gardi to Cameroon (1953).

Measuring, salvaging, comparing, and taking pictures

The explorers were driven by different motives. The Sarasins were originally natural scientists, their interest in anthropology came later. Nevertheless they returned from their five expeditions to Ceylon with 441 objects and 542 photographs in their luggage, not to speak of Basel zoo’s first elephant. For Felix Speiser-Merian salvaging an ancient culture on the verge of extinction was of primary concern. Alfred Bühler set out to study pre-industrial technologies in diverse fields of craft. His expedition marked the beginning of Basel’s famous textile collection and research tradition. The aim of theCameroon expedition was to document the material culture of the Mafa people – their primary interest lay in iron smelting and iron working – by assembling a collection, taking photographs, and filming.

Building the foundation of a world-famous collection

The exhibition featuring 540 artefacts, photographs, film sequences, and sound recordings gives a superb overview of the famous Basel collections. It is complemented by a rich supporting programme relating to issues of anthropology, both past and current.

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