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Getting Started: Tina Brüderlin Becomes Head of the Ethnologisches Museum


reading time: approx.  min

Tina Brüderlin took up her new position as head of the Ethnologisches Museum, located in the Humboldt Forum and in Dahlem, in January 2022. In this interview, she describes her first days on the job and shows us her “first-day photo”.

What did you do on your first day at work?

Your first day at work is always a very special day. You meet your co-workers, get to know your new workplace and gather impressions. And that was a very pleasant experience for me, because I used to work in Dahlem. So I was coming back to an environment that was both familiar and at the same time new because of all the changes in recent years. I was given a warm welcome by Professors Lars-Christian Koch and Alexis von Poser; we discussed upcoming projects and activities and scheduled meetings. Then I got some help setting up my workspace, which involved unpacking equipment, installing software, logging in to various accounts and getting everything up and running so I could get started right away.

Porträt einer Frau

Tina Brüderlin © Britt Schilling

What is the biggest item on your to-do list as you take up this new position?

The most important thing right now is seeing how everything works and getting to know the new environment – not just the people, structures and processes but also the challenges, visions and concerns of everybody involved. I want to get to know my colleagues here at the museum and the people we work with at partnering institutions. I also want to familiarize myself with the museum’s various core activities and projects, so I can see them from multiple perspectives – both as the public sees them and from behind the scenes. And of course, there are also the higher-level structures of the SPK, the SMB and, in the case of the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) our close cooperation with the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) and our partners at the Humboldt Forum. These first few weeks remind me very much of my ethnological research...

Bunter Origami-Vogel
This colorful little bird has been with me since 2005. It comes from the origami workshop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and was part of their Christmas tree decorations. My first museum job was at the AMNH, and the bird has been with me ever since; I always find a place for it in my office. Photo: Tina Brüderlin

What is the first goal that you want to work toward over the medium term?

Once the mammoth task of moving into the Humboldt Forum has been wrapped up this year, the next step will be to use the dynamic processes initiated in and around the Ethnologisches Museum to proactively and sustainably advance the museum’s core activities, including exhibitions, research and digitization. We will continue to focus on close, long-term cooperation with international partner institutions and on expanding the visibility of these many different and sometimes divergent perspectives on the museum and the cultural heritage preserved here.