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I consider my foundation my child.”

The Foundation was dear to Max von Oppenheim’s heart. Shortly before his death he wrote: “I consider my foundation my child.” It would benefit research on the Orient which is especially relevant today, given the continuing crises in the contemporary Middle East.

Christopher Freiherr von Oppenheim


Oppenheim’s passion for collecting was awakened early while he was living at home with his family. Later, on his journeys in the Near East he was initially motivated to acquire objects which he saw in use in everyday life for his collection. The expansion of his collection went hand in hand with his increasingly ambitious research. But it was not just scholarly interest; rather, it was his intention to document with objects, as comprehensively and vividly as possible, the many and varied aspects of the geographic and cultural landscape.


Oppenheim wrote extensively about the Orient, beginning in the 1890s and continuing down to a few years before he passed away. Deserving of special mention among his wide-ranging published works are the description of his journey from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, his work on the Bedouin, and the reports about his excavations at Tell Halaf. Two series produced by the Foundation continue this publishing legacy. And in the meantime, Oppenheim himself has become a subject of research into myriad themes of an adventurous life, reflecting his many diverse interests.

The Foundation

On 14 Feb. 1929 Max von Oppenheim established Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, Orient-Forschungsinstitut, in Berlin. Its avowed purpose was to publish his scholarly works, to carry out and support archaeological research in the Near East, to study the objects of daily life from the region, and to foster interconnections between scholars, both domestic and foreign, and between scientific institutes and societies. In the interim, the Foundation, which transferred its home to Cologne in 1982, further developed the pursuit of these goals. Numerous cooperative projects have been initiated with museums and universities where long-term loans from the collections of the founder have been preserved and maintained. Over and above the traditional emphasis on archaeology, the Foundation has also brought Oppenheim’s oriental collections into sharper focus.

Oppenheim and the so-called Enthroned Goddess, 1930

The aims of the website

The foremost goal of this website is to make the Foundation’s history and current work accessible to a broader public. It provides a synopsis of projects underway and calls attention to events; links to academic networks are also included, along with useful references to publications and information about the contents of collections and archives. The Foundation’s history is acknowledged through intensive study of the life and work of its founder, encouraging continuing research on Oppenheim and his legacy and contributing to academic and scholarly discussion.