Permanent exhibition

In the permanent exhibition of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum you can learn a lot of interesting facts on 3600 square meters about how diverse the cultures of the world live and how differently the same topics such as living, dying or beauty are dealt with. Why was living in a tepee so practical? Why did Maori wear tattoos and do so again? What is the purpose of ancestor figures?

The exhibition is divided into two sections. In the thematic complex "Grasping the World" you will learn about Europe's view of other cultures as reflected, for example, in travelogues, in art or in museums. The theme complex "Shaping the World" presents different ways of life around the world.

Already in the foyer you can marvel at the largest object in our collection: the 7.50 m high rice granary from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Made by the renowned carver Ne'Kambane from wood, bamboo and rotang in the 1930s, the rice granary tells a lot about the identity of the local population.

With a gamelan orchestra of over 50 instruments from Java, we will get you in the mood for your tour of the RJM. Take a seat and enjoy this unusual sound experience. Would you like to play the gamelan yourself? Discover what we have to offer!

On the 1st floor you can learn more about the founder of our collection, Wilhelm Joest. In 1899, his sister Adele Rautenstrauch and her husband Eugen donated Joest's private collection to the city of Cologne and the history of the RJM began.

In addition, on the 1st floor, we look at the role of ethnological museums. Because what is shown in exhibitions and the way something is presented directly shapes our understanding.

Other highlights on the 1st floor can be found in the art department, among others. There you can look at the most aesthetic and artful exhibits and learn about their place of origin.

In the installation by the artist Nando Nkrumah, set up at the beginning of 2020, you will have the opportunity to deal with structural racism and learn something about how it is possible to stop reproducing ubiquitous, racist images.

On the 2nd floor you will find objects from our collection on the themes of clothing and status, death and the afterlife, and faith. The most impressive masks from our collection will conclude the tour.

We are looking forward to your visit!

Small intervention in the permanent exhibition

"Epidemic, Disease & Cure"

For the permanent exhibition, in the context of the Corona pandemic, the team has come up with a small intervention on the theme of "Epidemic, Disease & Healing" that will grow over the coming months. Especially for people in regions of the Global South, these issues were and are often linked to the colonial past. For example, diseases introduced by Europeans had a fatal effect on local populations. How one frees oneself from one's fears or protects oneself from dangers will be addressed using the example of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lobby of the RJM 2012
photo: Guido Schiefer 
Spatial image "Encounter and appropriation: crossing borders - Max von Oppenheim
photo: Martin Claßen and Arno Jansen, Cologne
Spatial Image „The world in the showcase: Mmseum" 
photo: Martin Claßen and Arno Jansen, Cologne
Spatial image „View things: art" 
photo: Martin Claßen and Arno Jansen, Cologne