Nicola Groß


  • since 2022 Fellow at DFG Research Training Group 2227 “Identity and Heritage”, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
  • 2020 Study abroad at Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
  • 2018–2022, master’s degree in art history at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. Thesis topic: “Utimut. The Danish National Museum’s handling of colonial collection items using the example of the Greenland Repatriation Project (1982–2001) and in the context of current decolonisation debates in museology” supervised by Prof. Dr. Christoph Zuschlag and Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Saß at the chair “Provenance Research and History of Collecting”
  • 2012–2017 bachelor’s degree in art history and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn 


Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism
DFG Research Group 2227 “Identity and Heritage”
D-99421 Weimar

Seat: Marienstraße 9 | D-99423 Weimar

From cultural heritage to national identity. Cross-cultural restitution practices in Scandinavian national museums.

National museums are a continuous part of the history and remembrance culture of nations and are therefore actively involved in the construction of national self-image. At the same time, they contribute to reflecting on the cultural heritage of nations. In Scandinavia, these connections between the material environment (construction of national museums and cultural heritage) and the social negotiation of collective national identity and nationalisms can be understood in an exemplary manner:

On the one hand, in the early 19th century, against the background of geopolitical demonstrations of imperialism’s geopolitical superiority and the emergence of European nation states, cultural heritage from internal colonies and thus “from their own country” was constantly appropriated by Scandinavian nation states and translocated to national museums. A sovereignty of interpretation developed over this heritage, which stood in conscious delimitation and exaltation to the colonized indigenous cultures of Scandinavia (“othering”).

On the other hand, from the second half of the 20th century, cultural heritage was increasingly restituted to the original indigenous population of the Kalaallit and Sami. In particular, the loss of cultural heritage and the associated loss of identity for indigenous communities of heirs were cited as central elements in claims for restitution and in the struggle for the recognition of one’s own narratives of the past and identity.

The dissertation project examines the influence of restitution as a central component of social identity formation processes within the institution of the national museum. The aim is to pursue the question of how indigenous and national identity constructs are mobilized in the areas of tension between appropriation and return, loss and regain as well as cultural assimilation and re-indigenization for different history and identity politics in Scandinavian national museums and how they are (re)constructed, changed or were interrupted until today. One research focus is the repatriation processes themselves, which were linked to western, neo-colonial standards and preconditions for indigenous communities in the context of nation-building and capacity-building processes.

In this way, the so far undesired research complex about cultural heritage restitution and indigenous original populations within Europe (Scandinavian / European Natives) as well as their postcolonial perspectives should be made visible.Perhaps solutions for the current discourse in society as a whole, in which the handling of cultural heritage from colonial contexts as a result of trauma and conflicts is processed and renegotiated in museums, cultural diplomacy and international law, can be produced.

Current Publications

„Brücken bauen: Der dänisch-grönländische Utimut-Prozess (1982–2001) als Erfolgsbeispiel bilateraler Restitutionsbestrebungen“, in: transfer – Zeitschrift für Provenienzforschung & Sammlungsgeschichte (2022) [im Druck].