Press Release, 05/14/2020

The past year in projects and figures:
In 2019, the Gerda Henkel Foundation provided research funding totalling EUR 18.2 million
The new annual report is now available

In 2019, the Gerda Henkel Foundation provided funding for research worldwide totalling a good EUR 18.2 million. This amounts to EUR 2.4 million more than in the previous year. Some 360 projects from 44 countries – from Egypt to Vietnam – received funding. Now the new annual report presents a selection of the research projects and the persons involved. These include a project to safeguard and preserve murals in Ethiopian churches and a study on the fundamentalist Evangelical colleges in the United States [].

Ethiopian church art and Evangelical colleges
Some of the earliest and most important examples of Ethiopian sacral art are to be found in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The iconography of this art has had a decisive influence on the national identity, but despite their unique murals Tigray’s places of worship, which number over one hundred and are mostly hewn out of rock, remain largely unknown outside of Ethiopia. Sadly, rock falls and unfavourable weather conditions are highly detrimental to the artworks inside the churches. Indeed, in the last fifty years almost a fifth of them have been lost. A joint Ethiopian-British conservation project run by the Ethiopian Heritage Fund [link to website] is focusing on two works from the 17th and 18th century that are especially endangered. The Gerda Henkel Foundation had a camera crew follow the researchers to produce a documentary about the measures being taken to safeguard and preserve these works. It is available to view here [].

The importance of conservative, protestant circles in the United States is a topic not only discussed by the general public but is also a matter of interest among researchers. These conservative groupings have created their own places of higher learning in the Evangelical colleges. In order to be accredited and become accepted by society, during the 1940s the colleges began to develop new courses and graduation diplomas. Nonetheless, the basis for teaching and research at Evangelical colleges continues to be a literal understanding of the Bible. The repercussions of this approach, especially for psychology and the life sciences, form the subject of a research project headed by Dr Stefanie Coché (University of Gießen). Researchers rely on accreditation files, annual reports, records and admissions to examine how these courses have become established and how they are taught [].

The Gerda Henkel Foundation
The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel as an incorporated foundation under civil law, headquartered in Düsseldorf. The Gerda Henkel Foundation concentrates its support on the historical humanities. In some of the programmes the Foundation furthermore addresses issues of great relevance to contemporary life and the future, above all as part of its special programme “Security, Society and the State”. As part of the Lisa Maskell Fellowship programme, the Foundation supports young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia. With its “Patrimonies” funding initiative it promotes the preservation of the cultural heritage, specifically in regions experiencing crisis. Research that places current challenging issues in a greater historical context form the focus of the “Democracy as Utopia, Experience and Threat” and “Lost Cities. Perception of and living with abandoned cities in the cultures of the world” funding programmes. In connection with funded projects, the Foundation also provides assistance for social support measures as part of complementary projects. The Gerda Henkel Foundation can by virtue of its statutes pursue its objectives both inside and outside Germany.

Gerda Henkel Foundation press office
Dr Sybille Wüstemann
Telephone +49 211 93 65 24 - 19
Telefax +49 211 93 65 24 44