The Ziegenbalg House
A museum on intercultural dialogue
The Ziegenbalg House in Tharangambadi is a joint project of the Francke Foundations in Halle and the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church in South India with the help of many partners. It invites you to explore the diversity of participants, the non-linear development and the cultural intersection of Indian and European societies, which has been systematically initiated by the Danish-Halle Mission in Tranquebar since 1706. These cultural encounters have created a common heritage that can be traced back to various architectural, written or other sources of material, mainly kept in European archives. The Ziegenbalg House -House opens a new space for the multimedia collection and public communication of these sources to the Indian public. It is a joint project to restore the heritage in contemporary formats.
On the way between Burgkirchen, Halle and Tharangambadi, documentary filmmaker and photographer Heiner Heine captured the big moves of the museum project. Nine short films offer the unique opportunity to visit the museum thousands of kilometres away and to learn about its history.
Every year, there is a parade commemorating the arrival of the first Lutheran missionaries Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682–1719) and Heinrich Plutschau (1677–1752) in Tharangambadi. The 310th anniversary thus formed the adequate context to inaugurate the museum project, in presence of the director of the Francke Foundations. A historical moment celebrated with drums and garlands.
After their arrival in Tranquebar, Ziegenbalg and Plutschau started an exchange with the local people based on due respect and heartfelt interest. It was the beginning of an intercultural dialogue between the India and Europe. Here you find an insight into that history.
The Francke Foundations coordinate the international museum project from 2012 onwards. Therefore, they got engaged with several partners from Germany and India. The partner institutions share their approaches to support the project as well as their visions for its future.
310 years after the arrival of the first Lutheran missionaries in India, Jasmin Eppert is assigned to coordinate the museum project in Tharangambadi. Until spring 2019, she will live and work in the small South Indian town. She reports about her work and her life abroad.
The Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Pondicherry, realised the restoration of the Ziegenbalg House, within four stages of construction. The executive engineer and the architect of the Indian conservatory organisation talk about the challenges of preserving and restoring the historical structures of the Ziegenbalg House.
On July 15, 2017, one year after the initiation of the project, the Ziegenbalg House opened its gates to the public. The historical, intercultural dialogue between India and Europe is displayed in five rooms on two levels. Jasmin Eppert guides us through the exhibition.
The people coming to the museum undertake a pilgrimage to visit the craddle of Indian printing in Tharangambadi. The printing exhibition so far is the most vivid and most interactive part of the museum and is highly appreciated by visitors from far and wide.
In the beginning, there was a building to be restored, eventually to be revived with programmes and activities. Jasmin Eppert and her colleague Joice Shramila thus give insights into their vivid and diverse ways of museum work in Tharangambadi.
Tharangambadi, also called Tranquebar, at the Eastern coast of South India, witnessed the first Lutheran mission abroad, more than 300 years ago. Nowadays, this intercultural museum project preserves that memory of the past for the present and the future. Jasmin Eppert and the people living in this small town guide through Tharangambadi. »the Land of the Singing Waves«.
The restoration of the Ziegenbalghaus is a cooperation project of the Francke Foundations, the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Auswertigen Amt, the Evangelisch-Lutherischer Missionswerk in Niedersachsen and the Evangelisch-Lutherischer Missionswerk Leipzig.
In cooperation with the Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, we organised working scholarships for artists from India and Germany for the first time in 2019. The aim is to be inspired by culture and society during a stay in the other country and to let the experiences flow into new works of art. These are the impressive results:
We welcomed the Indian artist Asma Menon to the Francke Foundations in 2019. Together with the Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt we invited her to Halle for an exciting art project: She is making a German cupboard for the Ziegenbalg House in Tharangambadi. In the 18th century, the missionaries got to know the culture and everyday life of the Tranquebar. They regularly sent their (for the European view) interesting and curious discoveries to the Hallesche orphanage, some of which is still exhibited in the India cabinet of the Wunderkammer. Inspired by this, a German wardrobe for the Museum for Intercultural Dialogue in the Ziegenbalg House is now to be created. Asma Menon spent three months studying German culture and developing a concept for a German cabinet.
The Halle artist Stefan Schwarzer travelled to Tharangambadi in October 2019. For his art project, he has dealt intensively with the centuries-old exchange between the former Tranquebar and Halle. Inspired by the Halle reports of the missionaries in India, he designed 100 postcards with children in the Ziegenbalg House and sent them to Halle. People from Halle were able to send their address to the artist in advance.
The Halle artist Christine Bergmann travelled to Tharangambadi in September 2019. She conducted an art course on pop-up cards with children at the Ziegenbalg Museum. Her travel impressions can be read in her colourful and detailed blog entries.