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“Restitution cannot be simply a return to the kingdom following exile. It must draw on the wealth of new energies and meanings which the objects in question have produced in the art world and will continue to produce after their return, to emphasise that the time has come to reinvent the museum as a realisation of networks and synergies. These objects, which in the words of Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow have put down new roots everywhere they have been, now have a role to play in building bridges and thus in forging this new kind of museum network.”

— Souleymane Bachir Diagne 
Columbia University, Director of the Institute of African Studies

TheMuseumsLab, a pioneering mutual learning and knowledge exchange programme for African and European museum professionals, started in May 2021 in the spirit of the above-mentioned quote. Since then, TheMuseumsLab has continued to bring together a wide range of perspectives, skills, and competences to create space for a joint discussion on how museums can confront their colonial past, meet the present societal, global challenges and work together to actively shape a more equitable future.


→ Watch all Videos in TheMuseumsLab Playlist

TheMuseumsLab aims to drive a transformational change within the international museums sector. As a visionary platform for collaborative engagement, the project aims to build a sustainable community of professionals connected to museums and cultural institutions on the African and European continents, and to spark a joint reflection on a new ethical framework for international cooperation. TheMuseumsLab thus makes an important contribution to the implementation of the political coalition agreement of the German Government with regard to the reappraisal of colonial continuities and the establishment of new forms of cooperation.

TheMuseumsLab has always been based on cooperation among partners from different fields and perspectives. In 2024, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin cooperates with four partners to conceptualise and realise the programme: Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), the newly established TheMuseumsLab Academic Committee, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and TheMuseumsLab Alumni Network. Several Programme Museums in Berlin and Accra, as well as 25 African and European Residency Museums are partners with the programme. TheMuseumsLab is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) and the Federal Foreign Office (AA).

TheMuseumsLab Programme

Starting online and continuing onsite in Africa and Europe, the annual programme brings together 50 Fellows and numerous scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists, all connected to the museum sphere. Together, they explore the history, present, and future of museums, exchange knowledge, ideas, best practices, and engage with various museum spaces on both continents. The programme offers multidisciplinary perspectives on current museum and heritage discourses, space for exchange and networking, and innovative formats for joint learning. The thematic focus encompasses critical areas such as digitisation, provenance research, decolonisation, and the presence of objects from colonial contexts in European museums.


  • Module 1 | Online
  • Module 2  | Onsite in Europe (2021 – 2024: Berlin)
  • Residencies | Onsite in African and European Partner Museums
  • Module 3 | Onsite in Africa (2022: Cape Town, 2023: Nairobi, 2024: Accra)

In the first three programme years, 146 Fellows working in museums and cultural institutions in 21 African and 15 European countries participated in the programme. 75 Museums opened their doors for the Fellows, and more than 250 Speakers shared their expertise.

TheMuseumsLab was founded in 2021 by Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (MfN), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the African consultancy group TheAdvisors, the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) and the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).