The Rauten-what? Exactly my reaction when my friend C. told me in Cologne to visit the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum. I actually didn’t really understand the name completely, so I spend the next day figuring out which museum I absolutely definitely needed to visit. – it’s clear I eventually figured out where to go – What she said sounded very promising: a museum that consists of the complete ‘souvenir’ collection of an ethnographer and world traveller, Wilhelm Joest. More than 3.500 objects from all over the world are on display, divided into thematic exhibitions. No timeline and division between cultures, but small exhibitions focusing on themes like ‘rituals’, ‘clothing’, ‘death’, ‘religion’ to emphasise the resemblances rather than the differences between cultures.
I think I’ve got an addition to my ‘top-ten-best-museums-I’ve-ever-visited’. If I didn’t go pretty late in the afternoon, I think I could’ve spend a couple of hours wandering around. The museum is very interactive and focuses on specific objects and their context in the story of Joest or their importance in the region. Ideal for children to become little world-explorers. And for adults as well, who am I kidding. – I was like a kid in a candy shop: look here, those pictures…and there, maps! Oh and look at those books….. – Wandering through the museums feels a little bit like going on a world trip. Makes me wonder how it was to travel in the 1800s, explore continents and cultures unknown to the biggest part of the world population. Bringing back vivid memories and souvenirs at the same time. Installing all these objects in your living room and eventually have enough to fill a museum. – Where’s that time machine? I want my own museum – And take off again to explore and experience more of the world.
Anyway, I could talk about this museum for ages, but that doesn’t change anything: you just have to visit Rautenstrauch-Joest when you’re in Cologne. Especially if you like traveling, history and different cultures. You’ll love it.