Special exhibitions

Special exhibition

April 1st, 2021 to January 9th, 2022

RESIST! The Art of Resistance

The special exhibition “RESIST! The Art of Resistance” deals with different forms, instances and (hi)stories of resistance against colonialism and its current continuities.

The RJM has invited the curators and activists Peju Layiwola from Nigeria, Esther Utjiua Muinjangue & Ida Hoffmann from Namibia, Tímea Junghaus from Hungary as well as Elizaveta Khan and Mona Leitmeier from Cologne to curate their own spaces. These are complemented by objects from the RJM collection, historical materials, personal testimonies and works of contemporary art. Workshops in the exhibition space along with an extensive event programme offers spaces to meet, reflect and act.



May 22, 2021 to November 7, 2021

Rautenstrauch-Joest cat
Scratching the Black Box of Colonial Photographs - a collaborative work by Artist Meets Archive artist Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh

The Artist Meets Archive programme opened at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in cooperation with Photoszene United Cologne in May 2021 for the second time. The artist Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, who explored the collection in summer 2020 in the framework of a residency, is presenting her work in the museum’s permanent exhibition. Here, the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum acts as a central location for the Artists Meets Archive programme. One of the highlights is a central display by all five participants of this programme.




Point of Focus

November 5, 2021 to February 2, 2022

One Soul in All
Encounters with Ainu from the North of Japan

The exhibition “A Soul in Everything – Encounters with Ainu from the North of Japan” will be open at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum from 5 November 2021 to 20 February 2022. It focuses on the cultures of the Ainu groups and their path to recognition and respect. The Ainu are indigenous inhabitants of northern Japan who originally lived as hunter-gatherer communities mainly on the islands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin. From the mid-19th century, they were colonised, forcibly resettled and exploited by Japan. It was only after the mid-20th century that a return to their traditions became possible and a vibrant revival movement emerged, leading to the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous group in 2008 (legally confirmed by the Japanese government in 2019). The exhibition focuses on today’s multitude of voices in the Ainu revival communities. Visitors will also learn more about the history of the museum’s collection and gain insight into the beliefs of the Ainu and the way stereotypes about them are challenged and changed. Moreover, they will see the beauty of Ainu material culture. A special highlight, for instance, is an embroidered Ainu garment made of bast. The exhibition connects the past with the present, opening up new perspectives and viscerally involving viewers through intense multi-faceted encounters. The exhibition takes place in cooperation with the Ainu National Museum, Hokkaido, and the Japan Foundation Cologne.


Our exhibition formats


Special exhibitions 

The large exhibition hall is used for a wide variety of special exhibitions and exciting programmes.

Point of Focus

In the Point of Focus (Blickpunkt) exhibition area, we shed new and critical light on our own collection in close cooperation with the communities of origin.


Art intervention

To enliven our permanent exhibition, which opened in 2010, with new approaches and ideas, we regularly conduct “art interventions” – large and small, realised by invited artists, students, associations or by ourselves.