Department of Regional Geography

formerly: Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz 10,

present: Institute for Regional Geography, Schongauerstraße 9

Affiliated with the Museum of Ethnography and initially also located in the same building, was the Department of Regional Geography. This department was founded by the vulcanologist Alphons Stübel and in the first years run as a one-man operation. From 1906 on, the mineralogist Walter Bergt took over the department and applied in 1907 with the support of Hans Meyer for an independent status as a museum. Hans Meyer was an important advocate of the colonial project and following the recognition as an independent museum the museum in due course took on a different orientation, as indicated by the research extension into »depiction of the overseas possessions« and the special exhibition »the German colonies in images by Ernst Vollbehr« in 1908.

The successor of this institution, the Leibniz Institute of Regional Geography, possesses until the present day a large collection of the works by Vollbehr. Vollbehr did not only document the everyday life in the colonies but later also became an official painter at the frontline during the First World War. Under the National Socialist regime his realistic style was equally in demand and he was commissioned as such by the state to paint images of the party rallies and motorway construction. He rose in his time to one of the most popular artists in Germany.

During its development, the Museum of Regional Geography conveniently adapted itself to the political climate. From 1935 on, it became increasingly politicised and expanded with state support. In 1940 the then director Reinhard requested a larger new building for the museum. His plans also envisioned the construction of a colonial museum on the Deutsche Platz, justified by the »entrance of Germany in a new colonial era«. The course of the Second World War however made that this plan, the new colonial era and the colonial museum never became reality.