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Museum Fünf Kontinente

Main entrance © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Lalla Essaydi © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Weltentdecker Kinderzeichnungen © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Buddhasaal © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Ravenmask, Bella Coola © Museum Fünf Kontinente

View in the exhibition Myanmar © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Mask of waste © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Female Goddess, Aitutaki, Cook-Islands © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Powerfigur, Bakongo, Mayombe © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Jewelry in shape of a raptor, Panama © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Mona Lisa © Museum Fünf Kontinente

Buddha with glasses © Museum Fünf Kontinente

  • Art
  • Culture


Maximilianstraße 42
80538 München


Gallery Hours

Di.-So. 9.30-17.30
accessible with help

The Museum Fünf Kontinente (Five Continents Museum), formerly known as the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, was founded in 1862 as the first ethnological museum in Germany.
Today the museum holds over 160,000 ethnographica and art works as well as contemporary art of non-European peoples, 135,000 photographs and a library with over 100,000 volumes. Based on our collections, we display the commonalities and differences of civilisations from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Oceania, the Orient and Europe.
The museum stands for open-mindedness, cultural dialogue and respect for people from across the world.
We invite you – through the permanent exhibitions and special exhibitions and at our events – to discover the uniqueness and diversity of civilisations and the people who gave rise to them. The Museum offers access to the cultural riches of the earth’s peoples in a way which is unique within Munich’s varied museum landscape.

In 1835 the physician and natural scientist, Philipp Franz von Siebold from Würzburg, who had lived in Japan from 1823 to 1830, wrote a letter to King Ludwig I of Bavaria in which he explained his proposal to establish an ethnological museum in Munich. Siebold thus proved to be a pioneer in the trend in Europe which led to the foundation of numerous ethnological museums, particularly in the second half of the 19th century. This development was accompanied by the evolution of ethnology as an academic discipline. Siebold’s plan was implemented in 1862: Ludwig‘s son Maximilian II, an enthusiastic promoter of the arts and sciences, aspired to convert Munich into a leading centre in the German-speaking world. With this in mind, he decided to found an ethnological museum in the Bavarian capital which from the outset was – and is - dedicated to scientific research. Already in 1820, at the behest of the House of Wittelsbach, the first ethnological collections, the Transatlantic Collections which were compiled in the course of field trips to Brazil, the South Seas and Russian America, arrived in Munich.
Initially the museum was housed in the Hofgarten arcades in the Galerie building, which over time proved increasingly unsuitable for this purpose.
In 1925/26 the museum thus moved to its present location on Maximilianstrasse in a building originally constructed between 1859 and 1865 by the architect Eduard Riedel for a Bavarian state museum. The museum was the first ethnology museum in Germany. In the course of its history, it was known by the following names: Königlich Ethnographische Sammlung, 1862–1912; Königlich Ethnographisches Museum, 1912–1917; Museum für Völkerkunde, 1917–1954; Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, 1954–2014. Firmly rooted in Bavaria’s landscape of state museums, the museum has been called Museum Fünf Kontinente since September 2014. Its over 150 year-long history was and is closely linked with local, national and international developments and is the object of historical research. From 1916 to 1933 the third director of the museum, Lucian Scherman, was at the same time professor of ethnology at the Ludwig Maximilian University. In 1933 shortly before he was to retire, Lucian Scherman was dismissed from both positions because he was Jewish.

Angebote des Museumspädagogischen Zentrums (MPZ)
Familien- und Ferienaktionen, Geburtstage für Kinder und Jugendliche im Museum, Veröffentlichungen, Programme für Klassen aller Schularten und Jahrgangsstufen und Kindertagesstätten, Fortbildungen

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