Special exhibitions

Special exhibition

About missing, giving back and remembering

Since 2021, the RJM has been intensively involved in the planned repatriation of the Benin bronzes from Nigeria. The restitution debates have never been as explosive as they are today. But what is behind the restitution demands? What do they mean in concrete terms for the people who are affected by them? What happened at the place of origin after an object was collected and left its place? What emptiness did it leave behind in its country of origin? "I MISS YOU" is a new series about grief, missing, melancholy, broken memories and emptiness.


from 20 September 2023

Your turn!

According to Art. 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have a right to play and to participate freely in cultural and artistic life. But is that really true? We take this right seriously. In YOU ARE THERE! - SPACE4KIDS we create space for a participatory and experimental programme with and for children on almost 1,400 sqm in an ethnological museum with its complex social conflicts.




Special exibition

June 6 to July 28, 2024

MUTTER*SEIN A theatrical smorgasbord
Eva-Maria Baumeister and a polyphonic choir as guests at the RJM

To be a mother or not? This fundamental question shapes many female biographies. What images circulate of "the good mother"? Why is motherhood simultaneously idealized and devalued? MUTTER*SEIN brings together the many-voiced experiences of women with different biographies in Cologne and gives space to their stories and diverse realities. The result is a conglomeration of things and narratives that transforms into a growing, theatrical participatory intervention of sounds, stories and sensory experiences. Co-production Eva-Maria Baumeister, Sommerblut Kulturfestival, Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (RJM) & Freie Werkstattheater Köln (FWT) Supported by the Cultural Office of the City of Cologne and the Fonds Darstellende Künste/Produktionsförderung. With the support of the Frauenkulturbüro NRW and ON - Neue Musik Köln

Special exhibition

September 27, 2024 until January 5, 2025

We are not Carpets!
I tell you my story

The joint exhibition "We are not Carpets!" examines the systematic marginalization and exploitation of Iranian carpet weavers. What happens when they weave their own stories and not the patterns ordered by clients? This is the experiment of the collaborative German-Iranian research project and this exhibition. On display are newly created, unique personal carpets and their stories, which are experienced in a performative-poetic way. The presence of some weavers from Iran in the museum during the exhibition enables visitors to engage with the lives and crafts of carpet weavers and to understand the global entanglements and local predicaments of the exploitative and marginalizing economic and social system. "We are not Carpets!" can be experienced both analog and on an online platform. A cooperation with Cologne International Forum, University of 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.