The Global and the Particular in the History of the Hermann Klaatsch’s Collection of Skulls (Museum of Man in Wrocław)

Among rich collections of different provenance kept at the Museum of Man in Wrocław (Poland), there are 80 human skulls acquired by German comparative anatomist and physical anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch (1863-1916) during his fieldwork in Australia (1904-1907). The paper is an introductory intervention into the topic, aimed at presenting how the call for decolonizing in the museum sector may refer to museum objects kept in a country such Poland that did not have its own colonies. As the museum is closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the presentation will be focused on reconstructing the history of the Klaatsch’s collection and providing the contemporary international context which may affect its future. This story addresses both the global approach to engaging with colonial pasts as well as Poland’s historical particularities connected with the aftermaths of the Second World War.

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