Jonathan Fine is the new head of the Weltmuseum Wien

Jonathan Fine, born in New York, will head the future Weltmuseum Wien. He previously worked as a human rights lawyer, studying history and literature, among others, and specializing in Africa. He is not a trained ethnologist.

15.04 March 31, 2021

Jonathan Vine of New York will take office on July 1. © Weltmuseum / Moritz Fehr

Controversy over the return of the holdings of the Ethnological Museum to their countries of origin is given a new impetus by a personal decision: Jonathan Vine, Head of the Ethnological Museum collection at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, will become the scientific director of the Weltmuseum Wien on July 1st. “The focus of his work in Berlin is on sourcing with a focus on Benin and Cameroon,” says KHM’s general manager. “He will continue to do so smoothly in Vienna.” Sabine Agitated.

The search for a new scientific director for the former KHM Museum Association Falkond Museum in Neue Burg was conducted by international bidding. On Wednesday, Hague said in an interview with APS that New Yorker Fine was convinced at the hearings that the search committee unanimously voted in his favor. Fine secured a permanent contract, the current leader Christian Shekelgruber staying at home.

The future scientific director is not an ethnologist. Yeah Jonathan Vine, who will head the former Ethnological Museum from July 1, has a truly colorful and varied biography that travels from New York via Princeton and Yale to Africa, blending literature and law and linking Berlin with Benin.

PhD thesis on the Kingdom of Bamum

Jonathan David MacLachlan Fine was born in New York in 1969, and holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University in the Department of Art and Archeology. PhD. It was acquired in 2020 through the work “The Throne from the Grassfields: History, Gifts, Authenticity in the Bamum Kingdom, 1880-1929”. Vine previously earned a BA in History and Literature from Chicago and Cambridge respectively, and studied law at Yale University. “He then worked for many years in the United States as a lawyer specializing in human rights, international commercial disputes and constitutional law, before turning to art and cultural studies,” said Broadcast of the Kunsthistorisches Museum on the occasion of his appointment.

Press tour
Christian Schicklgruber, former director of the Weltmuseum, will stay with the house. Photo © APA / GEORG HOCHMUTH

I be Ethnological Museum of State Museums in Berlin Fine has worked as a curator for groups from West Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, and Namibia since 2014, and has held the position of museum director since January 2020. “Curated exhibitions in Cameroon and Benin. In 2017, he was responsible, with Julian Chapoy and Paula Ivanov, for the exhibition“ Unparalleled ” , Who collected African artworks from the Ethnological Museum along with selected sculptures from the collection of the Berlin Bodie Museum, ”so KHM press release.

Benin bronze as a big project

In the media, Vine was recently quoted in connection with the handling of bronze in Benin, which can be found in museum collections in Berlin and Vienna. Almost half of the more than 500 Benin objects must be exhibited in the Berlin Ethnological Museum in two halls of the Humboldt Forum from December onwards. Whether this will happen, and if so, in any form of presentation, is again uncertain. Since German politicians instructed the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation to rethink the previous strategy of dealing with things whose possession – in the case of things from Benin: through appropriation in the art trade – might be legal, but from today’s perspective on the colonial contexts of oppression it seems illegitimate There’s a movement in the matter. However, Fine leaves a very dynamic situation in Berlin. It is expected to give some momentum in Vienna as well.

Jonathan Fine was quoted on Today’s broadcast as saying that he was “deeply honored” by the order. “With the reopening in 2017 and the following exhibitions, the commitment and expertise of the Viennese colleagues placed the house at the forefront of the landscape of international museums. If you add the unparalleled wealth of the KHM Museum Association to Vienna’s cultural dynamics, the prerequisites are to greatly expand the strengths of the Weltmuseum.

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