The collections of the Museum der Kulturen go back to the mid-19th century. With the valuable pieces from Ancient America donated by the Basel businessman Lukas Vischer, the city at the knee of the Rhine came into possession of one of the first ethnological collections in Europe.
Initially, private collectors used their own money to travel across continents and bring back to Basel interesting objects and evidence of everyday indigenous culture. What started as a small collection that was part of a universal museum developed, thanks to scholars such as Fritz and Paul Sarasin, Felix Speiser, Paul Wirz and Alfred Bühler, into a stronghold of scientific work and an ethnological museum of international standing. In the subsequent decades, they made further major contributions to the systematic expansion of the collection.
Today, the Museum der Kulturen Basel is among the most important ethnographic museums in Europe. Its collection of more than 340'000 objects is impressive and of world renown. Over generations, comprehensive collections were built up focusing on particular areas, with valuable objects from Europe, Africa, America, Oceania, Indonesia, South, Central and East Asia.
In addition to ethnographic artefacts, it also has a collection of around 250'000 historic photographs. These are both objects as well as a source for conducting research into the object.
View of the collection
Here MKB offers a small selection of objects from its collections. This digital presentation is regularly complemented.