Current research

Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bissing is generally remembered as a prominent Egyptologist, who excavated and worked in Egypt, possessed a large international archaeological network and a huge collection of objects from ancient Egypt. After working as a cultural-political ‘Sonderbeauftragte’ in occupied Belgium during WWI, he became, in 1922, a professor at Utrecht University. At that time he was also known a reactionary, anti-Semitic  and nationalist politician. In 1924 he registered with Hitler's NSDAP and during his stay in the Netherlands he contacted the expelled German emperor Wilhelm II. In 1926 he was dismissed from the University of Utrecht because he was caught engaging in homosexual acts. Embittered, he withdrew to his estate just outside Munich, where he stayed until his death thirty years later.

Due to financial troubles caused by hyperinflation in the Republic of Weimar and the great crisis of the 1930s, Bissing was forced to dispose of large parts of his collection. For example, Bissing's personal friend C.W. Lunsingh Scheurleer (1881-1941) acquired a large number of objects, which eventually, in 1934, laid the foundation for the Egyptian collections of the Allard Pierson Museum.

In this project we follow, in preparation of an international exhibition on Von Bissing and his now dispersed collection, 5 relevant perspectives – the postcolonial perspective, the political perspective, the collector's perspective, the academic perspective, the biographical perspective – and study their interconnectedness.

Funding is provided by the Mondriaan Fonds (read more).

Project partners:

  • Allard Pierson,  Amsterdam
  • Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung , Berlin
  • Staatliches Museum für Ägyptische Kunst, München
  • Museum August Kestner, Hannover
  • NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam
F.W. Freiherr von Bissing (1873-1956) [Allard Pierson]