Photo by Natália Marques da Silva

Marianne Lehmann’s Collection

Jean Hénock Trouillot led Nina Hein and I through narrow hallways in dimly lit rooms on what seemed to be a particularly hotter-than-usual day in mid July. From the outside, the house we stood inside of looked just like the other homes that dot the hills of Petionville: nice, sophisticated, and elegant. Yet in this home there were no bedrooms or dining rooms, kitchens or even bathrooms; from wall to wall in very possible space lay an important item of Vodun heritage. At the time of our visit, 300 of Marianne Lehmann’s pieces were touring Europe while some 3,000 others called the house we visited and another Petionville location their home.

The items in Lehmann’s collection can’t be bought in stores or even galleries. They come straight from mambos and hougans who either no longer need an item or who need money for something else. Occationally, as Trouillot admitted, some priests and priestesses may return for a previously sold item. The collection has been longed recognized as one of the most important assemblages of Haitian Vodou, and it is seen through exhibitions, catalogs, and articles such as these. In the future, however, the board who oversees the Marianne Lehmann Collection hopes to find a permanent place where items may be displayed. Meanwhile, the photographs bellow offer an intimate and private view of where they are currently located: