Non-European Cultures - National Museum in Szczecin Poland

The beginnings of the non-European collections of the National Museum in Szczecin date back to the time right after the war, when nearly thousand ethnographical objects, originating from countries outside Europe, remaining after the collections of two pre-war Szczecin museums, have been secured. They were, most of all, exhibits obtained from former German colonies in Africa and the islands of Pacific. Most of them (718 pieces) in 1951 found themselves in Muzeum Kultur i Sztuki Ludowej – the Museum of Folk Cultures and Art – in Młociny near Warsaw (today’s State Ethnographical Museum). In Szczecin, there remained single exhibits, under the care of the Maritime Department of the Museum of Western Pomerania.

In early 1960s, when Polish Steamship Company launched new connections with Africa, gathering African collections began and scientific contacts were made. These actions resulted in archaeological research conducted by the Museum in the Republic of Guinea. The effect of those excursions and contacts made in Africa (with, among others, representatives of shipping lines) were one thousand exhibits obtained by Szczecin until middle 1970s.

The turn of 1970s and 1980s was crucial for the history of collecting objects from outside Europe. In 1976 first ethnological expedition to Africa set up from Szczecin. One of its objectives was to gather museum exhibits and the Museum provided substantial care over it. In 1978 a large collection from Peru was obtained, and in early 1980s further exhibits began to come rapidly – it was the result of further Museum expeditions and of cooperation with numerous scientific institutions and ethnologists working in the field. The non-European collections began to grow in number quickly and in 1983 the Non-European Cultures Department was established.

Today non-European collections of the National Museum in Szczecin amount to 36 thousand  exhibits, 25 thousand of which are archaeological relics from the Stone Age in Africa. Ethnographical collection, amounting to over 11 thousand objects, represented by exhibits originating from all over the world, is one of the greatest in Poland. It may be distinguished by the fact, that it has been whole collected after 1945, mainly as the result of the Museum’s own research conducted in Africa and numerous expeditions to various parts of the world. It consists of large monographic collections, illustrating cultures of numerous groups, among other Dogon (Mali), Somba (Benin), Lobi (Burkina Faso), Malinke (Guinea), Kirdi (Cameroon), Ye’kuana (Venezuela), Panare (Venezuela), Quechua (Peru).