They include the Museum of Indian Art, the Museum of East Asian Art and the Museum of European Culture as well as the Junior Museum and Museum for the Blind.
Founded in 1873, it is one of the most impressive collections of mostly pre-modern non-western art, artefacts from all over the world. The collection’s 500,000 ethnographic, archaeological and art displays originate from Africa, East and South-East Asia, Australia, the Pacific and the Americas. They include ancient and traditional ceremonial objects, ornaments, masks, terracottas and musical instruments - a huge testimony to the creative and cultural wealth of pre-industrial societies.
Photographic documentation, film footage and sound recordings complement the archive with recordings from the UNESCO programme “Memory of the World”. The collection is thematically arranged in halls which locate the culture and artefacts of specific peoples within specific geographical regions. Native American artefacts are contextualised in different habitats from the North American plains to the north-western Arctic regions. Typical ocean-going vessels are displayed in the Southseas halls (Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Palau etc) from the South Pacific islands. Children are even allowed to climb on them! The Africa exhibit is one of the most impressive. Countless of works of art and ritual objects range from masks and vases to musical instruments from countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria and the ancient kingdom of Benin including an original throne given by king Njoya of Cameroon to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Two thousand years of art from India, south-east and central Asia are on display in the Indian Art Museum and the Museum of East Asian Art – the artefacts including a Japanese tea room and a Chinese imperial throne. The Museum of European Cultures concentrates on elements of European daily life and cultural history, a considerable part of which is dedicated to life during WWII. The Ethnomusicology section, with its great wax cylinders, can be visited by appointment. The Junior Museum’s special attraction is an adventure journey from Berlin across the Sahara desert all the way to Australia.