The Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich is a social anthropology science museum. At the interface between the university and the public, the staff are committed to research- and practice-saturated teaching, collections conservation, object research and knowledge transmission. Our research focus is on human competences and skills in technical, material and social domains.
The Ethnographic Museum is the third oldest ethnographic museum in Switzerland and one of the few social anthropology university museums in the German-speaking area.
The Ethnographic Museum provides one of the University of Zurich’s many educational opportunities for the public, together with seven other museums and thirteen collections. We preserve, care for and explore an ethnographic cultural heritage collection of about 40,000 category A objects from the canton of Zurich. Within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the museum is part of the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (ISEK), alongside the departments of Social and Cultural Anthropology, and Popular Culture Studies.
Nowadays, ethnographic museums are experiencing a great deal of public attention. Questions around their objects’ provenance, of decolonizing the collections, of interpretative predominance and the right to representation, are omnipresent. We are actively tackling such questions through our collecting, research, teaching and dissemination. With regard to the object diasporas in our collections, today we work in close collaboration with their originator communities and the descendants of those who made and used these objects.
The Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich is a place of dialogue and joint reflection. Our exhibitions and events, which reveal insights into social anthropology research, encourage the public to join in discussions about relevant social anthropology topics. We intend to stimulate thinking together, to continuously open up and critically reflect upon ever-inquisitive and open-minded points of view, so that we can understand what it meant – and means – to be human.