Magdalene Odundo (geb. 1950), Asymmetrical Series, Kenya/Great Britain, 2017. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer)

MUNICH.- In July 2017, the extraordinarily diverse, exquisite, and extensive collection of African ceramics from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century from the collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria was given as a donation and a permanent loan to Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum. It consists of ceramic vessels and figures, spanning a vast region of the African continent. The collection is focused on ceramic items crafted using a hand-building technique, forgoing the use of a potter’s wheel. Apart from the northern regions, this technique is prevalent throughout the entire continent. In its scope, the precision of its selection, and the quality of each piece, the collection, which Franz, Duke of Bavaria has been acquiring since the 1970s, is considered one of the most internationally significant collections of African ceramics. The donation of the collection to a public institution means that it will now be presented and made accessible to both researchers and the general public; many of the objects on display are presented here for the first time.


Azolina MaMncube Ngema, vessel for serving beer (Ukhamba), 20th century, South Africa / Zulu. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (A. Laurenzo)

The exhibition features more than 250 objects in a site-specific installation by internationally renowned London architect Asif Khan, who is currently also working on the redesign of the new Museum of London as well as the Center of Contemporary Culture in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The title “Anders gesehen” (A different perspective) references the distinctive nature of the new contextualization. In a museum of design and applied art, the African ceramic items can be seen first and foremost from a creative and artistic point of view and received from different perspectives. Consequently, it is possible to create a presentation that establishes a new, design-focused viewpoint.


Vessel for serving beer (Ukhamba), Zulu culture, South Africa, 20th century.  Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer)

The Neue Sammlung’s own holdings comprise over fifteen thousand ceramic items. The Münchner Bund collection, established in 1911, forms part of the Neue Sammlung and, with five hundred ceramic pieces from China and Japan, has a clear international focus. The collection of African ceramic items closes a geographical gap with an outstanding inventory in terms of both quality and quantity.

The exhibition will provide information on the wealth of forms and functions of the African ceramic items, as well as the different contexts of their creation. Instead of a presentation organized by region, the aim of this exhibition is a design historical examination of the vessels and figures, starting with the objects themselves. This approach enables a new, fresh look at ceramic production in Africa, examining form, function, decor, and materiality.


Jabulile Nala (b. 1969), vessel, Zulu culture, South Africa 2013. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer)

The exhibition will be accompanied by a 447-page catalogue published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, in which international experts (Kim Bagley, Marla C. Berns, Boureima Diamitani, Stefan Eisenhofer, Caroline Fuchs, Olivier Gosselain, Karin Guggeis, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Angelika Nollert, Magdalene Odundo, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Elizabeth Perrill, Kerstin Pinther, Barbara Plankensteiner, Nii O. Quarcoopome, Josef Straßer, Barbara Thompson, Nanashaitu Aduke Umoru-Ọk̀ẹ,́ Moira Vincentelli, and Julien Volpers) will shed light on individual aspects and areas of the collection (ISBN 978-3-96098-708-6).

The exhibition is complemented by a varied accompanying program of workshops, interactive guided tours, and talks.

September 27, 2019 –  March 29, 2020


Jar, Igbo culture, Nigeria, ca. 1950. Foto: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer)


Bottle, Kongo-Sundi culture, Ukongo region, Democratic Republic Kongo, End of 19 th century. until middle 20th century. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer).


Bottle, Tip or Teke culture, Utyo region, Democratic Republic Kongo, End of 19th century until the beginning of 20th century. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer).


Voania of Muba (? – ca. 1928), Figurative vessel, Woyo culture, Muba, Democratic Republic Kongo, end of 19th century until ca. 1928. Photo: Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (H. Rohrer)