The concept of the ambitious Humboldt Forum finally revealed


The British Museum expert Neil MacGregor has now just unveiled the concept for Berlin’s new ambitious cultural project: the Humboldt Forum.

Germany’s museum capital gets another addition

The new museum will be housed in the reconstructed Berlin City Palace. It aims to become a center of European culture, in the heart of the capital city. Accompanied by the other two founding directors – including Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and Horst Bredekamp, German art historian – MacGregor released the concept of the future museum this past Wednesday.

Humboldt Forum under construction. Source.
Humboldt Forum under construction. Source.

And the theme is … drumroll…

The museum, which is set to open at the end of 2019, aims to be center of education and research on the natural world and world cultures. The ground floor will feature dance and theater events as well as show films. In addition, there will be shops, cafes and temporary exhibits. The permanent exhibits will be housed on the upper floors.

“The museum’s collections will serve as a basis to understand global interconnections and perceive the world as a whole, in the Humboldtian spirit,” said MacGregor.

For now: temporary exhibits

The first exhibition has already opened next door to the new site in the temporary “Humboldt Box” – giving visitors an idea of the magic that is yet to come.

Humboldt Box. Source.
Humboldt Box. Source.

The exhibit, entitled “Extremes! Nature, Culture and the Humboldt Current“, will explore the natural phenomenon of El Niño and its overall effect on the environment, people and culture. This will also include a 1,000-year-old mummy bundle from Peru. This has been magnificently preserved due to the extreme dry temperature on the coast. It’s part of the collection of the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.

Further planned exhibits include examining how cultures protect their children. This will also include the issue of migration. As well, a later temporary exhibit will explore gold in cultures from around the world.

According to MacGregor, the Humboldt Box will focus on “making our approach clear.” “It’s like a rehearsal stage.”

An ambitious cultural undertaking

The future Humboldt Forum seeks to become a cultural mecca in Europe. It will include many pieces from the collection at the Ethnological Museum – except right near the infamous Museum Island complex.

In addition, the founders will make the admission free of charge, as is true with many of Britain’s museums. According to MacGregor, “if you don’t charge entrance, the local population comes more often. Where you have to pay, it is mainly tourists who come.” He’s speaking from experience in cities such as London and Washington.

In addition to ambitious content, the actual reconstruction of the physical structure is quite an undertaking. The total renovation of the Berlin City Palace will cost nearly 600 million euros. The exterior will retain the historical style, while the interior will be modern.

The building itself also boasts a rich history. It was the former winter residence of the Kings of Prussia and German Emperors. It was then damaged during World War II and destroyed by the GDR following the war.

Source: The Art Newspaper