Press releases


Jul 3 2024

German Science and Humanities Council recommends strengthening the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology

"A symbiosis of research institution and museum" 

In its evaluation of the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology at Goethe University Frankfurt, the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) acknowledged its research and transfer achievements. The Wissenschaftsrat also found that the institute plays a special role in German-speaking cultural anthropology because it embodies a successful symbiosis of research institution and museum.  

FRANKFURT. Following an extensive evaluation, the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftfsrat, WR) has attested the Frobenius Institute at Goethe University, with its unique archives and collections, a special role in German-speaking cultural anthropology at the interface between research institution and museum. WR also recognized its outstanding, collection-based research and transfer achievements. 

Given that different cultural concepts of humanity and the relationships between humans and the environment are central research topics in cultural anthropology, the discipline can deliver important impulses for current debates on the possibilities and risks of human coexistence. At the same time, anthropological research has to be particularly self-reflective, not least due to the oftentimes critical public perception of the discipline and museums as an institution.

Considering its financial and personnel resources, the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology impressively meets this challenge, the Council’s evaluation found, adding that the Institute serves as an example worth emulating of how to bridge the gap between research institution and museum that is so characteristic of German-language cultural anthropology. "Since its current director took office in 2017, Frobenius Institute has undergone an extremely positive development and is providing excellent research and transfer services," says Wissenschaftsrat Chairman Wolfgang Wick, adding that these achievements are based on the Institute's archives and collections – unique in the world –, including the rock art archive, which has been nominated for UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” Program. The copies of rock paintings, some of which are no longer preserved in their original form, have been displayed from various thematic perspectives in several exhibitions across Germany and abroad.

In its evaluation, the Wissenschaftsrat also found that Frobenius Institute needs more staff for its broad spectrum of tasks, which range from research, to preserving and expanding collections, all the way to public relations. The Council warns that staffing levels could significantly constrain the Institute's performance in the medium term, and urgently recommends that additional positions be created. 

The specific fields for which the Council has identified a particular need for support are central collection processing, easing the workload of researchers, making the archives and collections even more visible internationally, as well as for important digitization and data backup tasks.

"We are extremely pleased with this positive evaluation by the German Science and Humanities Council, especially the praise our researchers received for their great commitment. We feel vindicated in our work and would be grateful to see the political authorities strengthen our basic funding," says Frobenius Institute Director Roland Hardenberg, who is also a professor of anthropology at Goethe University Frankfurt.  

Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology is a non-university research institute based in Frankfurt, whose offices are located in Goethe University’s IG Farben building. The Institute’s 12 permanent employees and 16 externally funded staff are free to use Goethe University’s infrastructure and funding opportunities, and it in turn makes its archive, library and collections available to the university’s students and researchers. It is also involved in teaching and a number of joint research projects. Frobenius Institute receives basic funding from the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts, which had asked the Wissenschaftsrat to evaluate Frobenius Institute in 2021.

Images for download:

1) Local researchers of the Tacana, Tsimane' and Mosetén (Bolivia) visit the Frobenius Institute's rock art archive, 2024 (Photo: Jennifer Markwirth)
2) "Reclining man with horned mask": This copy of a rock painting from Zimbabwe, Rusape (place of discovery: Diana Vow), was made by artist Agnes Schulz in 1929. (Watercolor on paper, 105.5 × 147 cm, Frobenius Institute FBA-D3 01622-b)

Further information
PD Dr. Susanne Fehlings
Public Relations
Frobenius Institute for Resarch into Cultural Anthropology 
Tel.: +49 (0)69 -798 33054

Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,