Humboldt Forum

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Humboldt Forum
HF logo across rgb-01.svg

Humboldt Forum-9147.jpg
Berlin Palace, west facade (2021)
location Berlin, Germany
Universal museum
architect Franco Stella
opening December 16, 2020 (digital)
July 20, 2021 (for everyone)
Hartmut Dorgerloh (General Director)
Paul Spies (City Museum)
Lars-Christian Koch (State Museums)
Sabine Kunst (Humboldt University)

The Humboldt Forum is a universal museum on the Spree island in the historic center of Berlin , Mitte district , sponsored by the Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace . The building was erected from 2012 to 2020 on the site of the historic Berlin Palace and has its reconstructed facades on three outer sides and in its inner courtyards. With the exhibition collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin , the Stadtmuseum Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin , it expands the offerings on Museum Island . Because of theCOVID-19 pandemic , it was initially only opened digitally on December 16, 2020. With the opening on July 20, 2021, in which Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) took part, visitor operations began.

According to a recommendation of the International Commission of Experts Historic Center of Berlin and a decision of the German Bundestag is the building up to the Spree side from outside a replica of a "major work of the North German Baroque applicable" Berlin Palace, inside a fully modern building by Italian architect Franco Stella . The modern parts of the building were financed by public funds of 572 million euros , the historic parts by private donations of 105 million euros. According to research by the deutsche bauzeitung, the building is the most expensive cultural building in Germany.

In addition to the Ethnological Museum Berlin and the Museum of Asian Art of the State Museums, the Humboldt Forum will also be home to the Berlin exhibition of the City Museum and the University's Humboldt Laboratory. In addition, various events as well as special and changing exhibitions are to be held in the institution supported by the Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace .


Modern east and baroque north facade, 2019
Baroque west and south facade, 2020

After the foundation of the Friends of Berlin Palace in 1992 under the direction of Wilhelm von Boddiens , the Federal Government and the Senate of Berlin set up the International Expert Commission on Historic Center Berlin , chaired by Hannes Swoboda , in November 2000 to come up with proposals for the architecture and use of a new building to develop the Schloßplatz. The commission consisted of experts from various professions, including historians, architects, museologists and preservationists, as well as politicians from the SPD, CDU, Greens and PDS. In April 2002 the expert commission presented its final report in which it recommended the restoration of the baroque facades of the Berlin Palace in connection with its use as a museum of world cultures under the name Humboldt Forum . On the basis of this recommendation, the German Bundestag passed the project on July 4, 2002 with an almost two-thirds majority .

With the accommodation of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin , the concept of use intends to tie in with the cultural tradition of the Berlin Palace, which originally housed the Brandenburg-Prussian Chamber of Art , which is considered to be the nucleus of the Berlin museums: The Kunstkammer, founded by Elector Joachim II around 1550 , comprised objects from all areas of nature, art and science. After being looted during the Thirty Years' War , it was rebuilt by Elector Friedrich Wilhelm from 1640 and moved to Berlin Palace from 1700 by the first Prussian King Friedrich I. During the Napoleonic Wars , the collection was brought to Paris as looted art in 1807 , before being returned to Berlin in the liberation year 1815. In the 19th century, the objects in the Kunstkammer were finally distributed between the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (today: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and the Royal Museums (today: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin ).

In the course of the project, the Humboldt Forum became more and more expensive. Initially, the construction costs should be 595 million euros. The foundation stone for the museum was laid on June 12, 2013, followed by the topping-out ceremony in June 2015 . In 2019 it became clear that the costs will increase by almost 50 million euros to 644.2 million euros. The cause of the additional costs were numerous technical deficiencies and security problems. The problems with the heating and cooling system, including is also supplied with geothermal energy, led to the opening being postponed from November 2019 to autumn 2020. Since the risk provisions and other reserves of the responsible Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace had been completely used up, the federal government paid the additional costs. This also corresponded to an agreement between the federal government and the state of Berlin from 2011, according to which additional costs must be borne by the federal government alone. Berlin's share remains at 32 million euros. According to estimates from October 2020, the Humboldt Forum will have cost a total of 677 million euros after its completion. This includes 105 million euros for the baroque facades, which were financed exclusively by private donations and should be complete by the end of 2021.


The Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace , which was founded in mid-2009 as the Berlin Palace Foundation - Humboldt Forum, acts as the client, owner and operator of the Humboldt Forum . It coordinates and bundles the interests of the users, organizes a permanent exhibition, Historische Mitte Berlin - Identity and Reconstruction , and acquires donations for the rebuilding of the historic facades and the construction of the Humboldt Forum.

The Humboldt Forum and Museum Island with their range of collections, specialist libraries and event rooms are intended to create a link between art, culture and science. The link between the collections on European art and culture on the Museum Island and the non-European museums in the Humboldt Forum creates a dialogue between world cultures in the center of the German capital. The new Universal Museum houses , among other things, the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art . The collections of non-European art housed in the Museum Center Berlin-Dahlem until 2017 comprise over 500,000 artifacts and works of art.

The term Humboldt Forum was developed by the International Expert Commission on Historic Center Berlin , founded in 2000 , and presented by Hannes Swoboda when he spoke to the then Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Housing, Kurt Bodewig , and the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit , on 17 April 2002 presented the final report. Even if the Humboldt brothers have nothing to do with the collections exhibited in the partially reconstructed Berlin Palace , the decision-makers took up the name suggestion. Reference is made to the well-traveled cosmopolitan and researcher Alexander von Humboldt , who explored different cultures on his travels. Wilhelm von Humboldt , the universal scholar, advocated, among other things, the idea of ​​uniting various educational institutions and science courses under one roof. The Humboldt Forum sees itself as the implementer of this idea and wants to combine natural and cultural sciences . On the other hand, the art historian Bénédicte Savoy criticized , especially with reference to the origin of objects from former colonies, that the name Humboldt for the forum was just a “label”. Because the Humboldt's credo is to combine collections, research and teaching - and this is exactly what the Humboldt Forum does not achieve.


Future exhibition space on the 2nd floor, August 2018
The ship from Luf belongs to the Ethnological Museum

The collections of non-European art of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation will be moved from the Museum Center Berlin-Dahlem to the exhibition rooms of the Humboldt Forum .

The large entrance hall of the building complex should act as a connecting element with cross-thematic events and be a special crowd puller - in line with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's idea of a comprehensive science theater.

On the first floor is the future exhibition area of ​​the Berlin exhibition, which is being created on behalf of the State of Berlin as a co-production between Kulturprojekte Berlin and the Stadtmuseum Berlin under the curatorial direction of Paul Spies . It is intended to thematically link the cultures of the world on the upper floors with the city of Berlin, with a focus on the international history of Berlin. The exhibition aims to show "how the world has influenced Berlin, but also how Berlin has affected the world".

The Humboldt Laboratory, the Humboldt University's event space, is also on the first floor . Under the curatorial direction of Gorch Pieken , the opening exhibition After Nature will be shown, which addresses the interactions between crises in nature and crises in democracy.

In the future, the collections of the Ethnological Museum on the cultures of Oceania, America and Africa will be shown on the second floor of the building .

The collections of the Museum of Asian Art are exhibited on the third floor .

In May 2018, the Luf-Boot was brought into the Humboldt Forum, as it could not have been transported into the building after the museum was completed due to its size.

Development of the museum

First approaches

From 2012 to 2015, experimental exhibition concepts were created under the name Humboldt-Lab in Dahlem , which tried out various exhibition and museum formats with new perspectives on museum processes and the roles of those involved. The results were presented to the public on rehearsal stages . Conceived as collaborative projects, many people who normally work outside the museum context were involved in the individual rehearsal stages, such as the visual artists Simon Starling , Yūken Teruya and Zhao Zhao.

Humboldt Forum highlights

From October 2018 to May 2019 there was one event each month. A free 40-page catalog with 15 full-page color illustrations has been published for the series of events, showing all objects in exemplary shots. The series of events was sponsored by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media .

Under the name Humboldt Forum Highlights , 15 special objects are to be permanently on view after the opening and form highlights. They are part of around 40 tracks that highlight the diverse aspects of the history of the place at surprising points throughout the building. In the Humboldt Forum Highlights catalog, the objects have the abbreviations Barrigón , Kazike , Mayakrieger , Vishnu , Cuauhcoatl , Friedrich III. , Madonna , Sope , lecture notes , Nandi , Gorilla , safe door , good day , pleasure and Orobates pabsti .

Humboldt Forum Highlights is also the title of a series of events organized by the Humboldt Forum Foundation, which will bring 10 of the 15 objects closer to visitors. The series of events deals with the ten objects 'Nandi', 'Gorilla', 'Madonna', 'Vishnu', 'Friedrich III.', 'Mayan Warrior', 'Guten Tag', 'Orobates pabsti', 'Barrigón' and 'Vault door' 'using longer titles. These objects will be presented to visitors on Museum Island and at the Kulturforum in Berlin.

List of Humboldt Forum highlights
can be seen in
origin Period or year Brief description image
(The Potbellied)
New Museum
Ethnological Museum
500-300 BC Chr. The barrigón is a 120 cm high and 800 kg heavy boulder from the coastal lowlands of Guatemala, which was found together with two other figures around 1860 during clearing for a coffee plantation in the area of ​​Finca Concepción. The figure was modeled from the boulder with a few distinctive lines, the back is almost unworked. It probably represents a deity dating from 500 to 300 BC. BC and is a testimony to the Mayan culture of the Middle Preclassic , about which little is known due to the lack of written evidence . The other two statues ended up in the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale in Saint-Germain-en-Laye .
Kazike of the Quimbaya
New Museum
Ethnological Museum
500-700 The artistically made figure probably shows a priest prince (caciks) of the Quimbaya culture and is an example of their outstanding goldsmithing . In his hands the figure holds two containers for shell limestone, which plays an important role in chewing coca leaves , as this converts the cocaine into the alkaloid ecgonine, which is completely devoid of any addictive potential. Priestly princes, who belonged to the privileged ruling class, were responsible for both religious and administrative matters. The figure is probably a grave object and was a gift from the businessman and politician Hermann Henrich Meier , who gave it to the Royal Museum of Ethnology at the time in 1873 .
Maya war vase
Neues Museum
Ethnological Museum
700-900 The ceramic vase from the late Mayan Classic comes from Guatemala and shows twelve figures in battle scenes on a 360-degree panorama. One of the warriors is captured while fighting, which is said to increase the victor's reputation. The exact location of the vase is unknown, so that it cannot be attributed to a historical event. The clothing and jewelry of the figures shown, as well as the name hieroglyphs, refer to historical persons.
The circumferential hieroglyphic band indicates the use of the vessel as a container for cocoa , which in the Mayan imagination was considered the blood of the corn god and was only given to the most powerful as a divine elixir of life. The vase was acquired in 1999 by the Ethnological Museum in the art trade. The vase is 18.8 cm × 18.3 cm × 18.5 cm.
Maya warriors-1.jpg
Old Museum
Ethnological Museum
700-800 The almost life-size granite figure from southern India was created between the 8th and 9th centuries. Such a large and completely preserved Indian god figure is relatively rare in western collections and is due to the material granite. The Vishnu figure has four arms, the upper right, a spreading disc ( Chakra ) and left a conch (shankha) holds. The club ( gada ) and lotus flower (padma) that are usually present are missing, instead he raises his lower right hand with the palm facing forward, thus signaling protection.
Vishnu Museum for Asian Art (Berlin) .jpg
(Eagle Snake )

New Museum
Ethnological Museum
1325-1521 A "Cuauhcoatl" was a mythical hybrid of eagle (cuauhtli) and rattlesnake (coatl) in the Aztec culture . The figure was made by the Aztecs and, thanks to the robust material, outlasted the centuries. Countless feathers adorn the animal's body. A "gemstone" hieroglyph is emblazoned on the head. Cuauhcoatl stands above all for the founding myth of Mexico, according to which the capital Tenochtitlan of the Aztec Empire was founded at the point where the prophecy of their tribal god Huitzilopochtli was fulfilled and an eagle perched on a cactus that grew on a stone. The symbol of the eagle with a snake is the coat of arms of Mexico . The eagle snake was found in Azcapotzalco in the central highlands of Mexico and came into the collection of the Ethnological Museum in 1862 with the Carl Uhde collection.
Mexico coat of arms
Statue of Friedrich III.
by Bartholomeus Eggers
Foundation Prussian Palaces and
Gardens Berlin-Brandenburg
1688 The statue by the Dutch sculptor Bartholomeus Eggers dates from 1688, the year Friedrich III took office, who commissioned the manufacture of the statue. It belonged to a group of twelve statues of the Brandenburg Electors from the House of Hohenzollern, which was commissioned by his father Friedrich Wilhelm , the Great Elector, in whose shadow he stood all his life. The statues stood in the Alabaster Hall of the Berlin Palace and were intended to demonstrate rank and dignity as well as the long tradition and continuity of the Hohenzollern as rulers of Brandenburg and elector of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. From 1728 to 1894 the statue was in the White Hall and then at another location in the castle.
Picture Gallery
Ethnological Museum
Late 18th century The picture of the Feather Madonna made from feathers from at least 13 different species of birds comes from Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán , which is known as the center of the feather handicraft. A similar sculpture from the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud in Pátzcuaro was probably used as a model . In the museum of Tepotzotlán there is an almost identical feather image, so that an almost industrial production can be assumed. The technically extremely demanding pen design combines pre- Hispanic pen art with Christian motifs. Alexander von Humboldt brought the Feather Madonna with him from Mexico from his American research trip in 1803/1804, as evidenced by a letter from Humboldt. The Feather Madonna is an exhibit in the Ethnological Museum.
Humboldt Forum Highlights Federmadonna.jpg
figure of a deity

Neues Museum
Ethnological Museum
before 1877 The Polish ethnographer and biologist Johann Stanislaus Kubary brought the wooden figure to Germany in 1877 from Nukuoro , a Polynesian exclave in Micronesia . Before it came into the collection in the Ethnological Museum, it was in two Hamburg museums. The life-size wooden figure of the god Sope stood in the main temple of Nukuoros, where there are said to have been six statues like this one. During the month-long festival of harvest time, the figures were adorned with flowers and given fruit and other food as offerings. It arises from a pre-Christian culture on Nukuoro, about which, unfortunately, little is known.
College booklet Friedrich Wilhelm

Humboldt University Berlin
before 1885 The college booklet comes from an exhibition at the Humboldt University, in which scientific search and knowledge processes are to be made tangible. The booklet was kept by Friedrich Blanck during his studies at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in the 1880s and contains lecture notes. He left records of several thousand pages. The students compared their transcripts with each other in order to correct errors and omissions. In a transcript of a lecture by the reform pedagogue Friedrich Paulsen, Blanck made a statement with “= THIS I DO TWO! = “, Which documents a different opinion on the lecturer. An open exchange of views between lecturer and student was not possible or not desired at the time, as criticism of officials was unimaginable.
Shiva's mount Nandi
Pergamon Museum
Museum of Asian Art (Berlin)
19th century Nandi, a humpback bull in Hindu mythology , is the mount ( Vahana ) and loyal servant of the Hindu god Shiva . The Berlin copy was donated by a Swiss patron to the collection of the Museum of Indian Art (today: part of the Museum of Asian Art) and dates from the 19th or early 20th century. It is made of wood and was used in solemn processions as a mount for Lord Shiva, with whom it was driven around the temple.
Nandi Museum of Asian Art.jpg
Wet preparation
"Right hand of a gorilla"
Friedrich Wilhelm

Humboldt University Berlin
1904 or earlier The right hand of a gorilla , preserved in alcohol in a square glass container, was sold by the Leipzig drug and paint dealer Erwin Olbrecht in 1904 for 20 marks to the Zoological Institute of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität. He also sold the collection a chimpanzee hand and a ground python. These animals all live in western central Africa, so they may have come from what was then the colony of Cameroon . Nothing is known about the exact origin of the preparations.
The zoological teaching collection was created in 1884 and served as an instrument for imparting zoological knowledge using anatomical and microscopic specimens, models and blackboards. During the Second World War, large parts of the collection were lost and during the 1970s it was to be dissolved, with further objects being lost or passed into the possession of the Museum für Naturkunde.
Gorillas have only been known in the western world since the 19th century and were first described in 1847 by the American missionary, doctor and naturalist Thomas Staughton Savage (1804-1880). In 1859 Charles Darwin published his major work On the Origin of Species , which sparked the discussion about the relationship between humans and apes. For this, the gorilla hand could have been an important object of illustration and research. The hand is thus an object to represent the history of science and colonial power relations.

Vault door Berlin
City Museum Berlin
1927-2005 The vault door was once located in the basement of the Wertheim department store on Leipziger Platz, where it secured the vaults from 1927. In 1944 the department store was badly damaged in an air raid and, although reconstruction would have been possible, it was demolished by the GDR rulers in 1955/1956. The basement with the vaults, which was now in the uninhabited border strip of East Berlin , was retained and served the techno club Tresor as an event room until April 16, 2005. The safe became internationally famous and the epitome of a typical techno club. The safe became a platform for the international techno movement. Safe operator Dimitri Hegemann loaned the door to the Stadtmuseum Berlin for the Berlin exhibition in the Humboldt Forum . The safe door also represents the history of the Wertheim family and their persecution during the Nazi era . In 1934 Georg Wertheim donated his entire fortune to his non-Jewish wife Ursula. Nevertheless, the Wertheim company was classified as "purely Jewish " in 1935 . In 1937 the Nazis expropriated. All Jewish managers were fired. The members of the Wertheim family went into exile. Three family members were murdered in Auschwitz.

It was the first object that was presented in its final place in the Humboldt Forum.

from Wolfgang Mattheuer
German Historical Museum
1975 The painting by Wolfgang Mattheuer originally hung in the gallery in the Palast der Republik , in which there were a total of 16 monumental paintings by well-known GDR artists, including Willi Sitte , Walter Womacka , Wolfgang Mattheuer and others under the motto “When Communists Dream” and is one of the main works Mattheuers. In the present reproduction of the picture by the news agency ADN it says: “With Wolfgang Mattheuer, a very simple scene is turned into an important parable. A family walk is steep and therefore not effortlessly uphill. The green of the landscape contrasts with the big city in the valley. The painter sees the city with an attentive love of his homeland. It spreads out brightly in the vast country, is an essential part of our historically grown sphere of existence. "

After the fall of the Wall, Mattheuer said: "I see [...] more painfully than many others the brutality with which our industries are eating their way into the country [...] more ruthlessly than in the 19th century [...] only worse than in our years the limits of the resilience of nature and humans have become clear. "

At the time, the picture could be interpreted as a criticism of political and social undesirable developments in the GDR, but it is still relevant today, as it shows the ruthless industrialization that is omnipresent today. At the same time, the picture also stands for the history of the location Berliner Schloss - Palast der Republik - Humboldt Forum, in which art always played an important role in self-expression. The painting comes from a depot of the German Historical Museum and today belongs to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0510-0324, Berlin, Palace of the Republic, painting Mattheuer (cropped)
enjoyment Berlin
Palace of the Republic and others
1881-2019 With an estimated 100 theaters and stages, cinemas, countless pubs and clubs, Berlin is the capital of entertainment in Germany. Gastronomy, culture and entertainment are an important economic factor. The exhibition Berlin and the World tries to illuminate pleasure in its manifold forms. In the themed room of the Humboldt Forum, the ceiling lights from the former Palace of the Republic represent the theme of light and create a connection to the history of the location.

The multicultural aspect of the topic is shown on the topic of hip-hop culture . Coming from the Bronx, picked up by Turkish youth in Berlin and exported to Turkey as Oriental Hip-Hop, it became the basis for the local hip-hop scene there. The themed room raises a lot of questions and allows a look at the diverse history of Berlin's entertainment culture.

Berlin: Palace of the Republic view into the foyer, with its plastic made of colored glass and metal.
First big youth dance evening in the Palace of the Republic
Orobates pabsti
(3D print of an ancient dinosaur)
Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha /
Humboldt University Berlin
2016 Orobates pabsti was an ancient dinosaur that lived 290 to 270 million years ago and was first described in 2004. It was named after the Gotha explorer of Permian primeval dinosaur tracks, Wilhelm Pabst (1856–1908). The skeleton was discovered during the " Bromacker excavation" in 1998 and prepared by Amy Henrici at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History . It is the best-preserved skeleton from the Diadectidae family in the world.
Based on this skeleton and a fossilized track print, a 3D model was developed in an interdisciplinary research project using modern computed tomography methods and high-resolution scans , which could be animated using detailed biomechanical analyzes of today's animals. From this, the individual bones could be formed in 3D printing and assembled into a life-size model. As part of the research project, an Orobates pabsti robot , the OroBOT , was also created , which, together with the 3D model, serves to further research the primeval dinosaur .
Model of the Orobates pabsti: red parts have been reconstructed from the fossil; blue parts have been mirrored by the red parts; the yellow parts are hypotheses.


Criticism of the collections

Some art historians and ethnologists criticize the concept of the Humboldt Forum with the motto “One house, four actors”, the way the Ethnological Museum deals with collections from colonial contexts and the provenance research it has carried out as inadequate. The museum preparation of around 20,000 exhibits has been the essential aspect by which the large museum will be measured since the conception of the house. In particular those of the exhibits, which come from German and other colonies . Art historians and ethnologists rated the provenance research as inadequate, criticized the lack of awareness of the problem and spoke of "colonial amnesia" ( Jürgen Zimmerer ). As early as August 6, 2015, Mark Siemons had pointed out in the FAZ that the “old colonial line of sight could only be perpetuated in a friendlier form”. However, he also sees a positive development and praised the fact that since the first content-related planning, the handling of the content had become much more sensitive.

On October 17, 2016, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation described the Humboldt Forum as the “epicenter of shared heritage”. According to Mark Siemons, the catchphrase “shared heritage” contained “with all his critical and progressive gestures something else: an ongoing claim to the cultures that one wants to respect in their intrinsic value in the same breath”. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung looked to the real opening of the July 20, 2021 little relation to the name than the "Humboldt Forum".

The art historian Bénédicte Savoy stepped down from the advisory board of the Humboldt Forum in 2017 and asked the project to be honest. This includes the critical examination of 300 years of collecting "with all the filth and hopes that are associated with it. That's us, that's Europe. ”The Humboldt Forum is“ like Chernobyl ”- it is“ buried under a lead cover ”“ like nuclear waste ”so that nothing escapes outside.

Furthermore, Savoy sees an "insoluble contradiction" between the castle copy and the exhibition. The architecture signals that history can be "undone". But the opposite is explained to the nations that ask for the return of stolen objects: history cannot be undone. Politicians have decided to rebuild the castle, but are now avoiding a critical examination of it. Then tried Monika Grütters (CDU) and founding director Neil MacGregor , "to save what can still be saved," said Savoy in 2017.

In December 2020, ZDF Magazin Royale criticized, among other things, that many of the exhibits came from the colonial era and were illegally stolen from German colonies at that time or acquired as stolen goods from other colonies, especially in the period before the First World War . One example is the so-called Benin bronzes , which were stolen from the Kingdom of Benin by British colonial troops in 1897 and which Nigeria is making claims on. They are owned by the Ethnological Museum and are to be exhibited in the Humboldt Forum. When asked, a spokesman for the Minister of State for Culture stated in December 2020 that the letter from Nigeria, which had already been received and answered in 2019, did not contain an official request for return. In a contribution from 2020, the journalist Markus Grill also criticized the handling of the collections of human remains in the holdings of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (BGAEU).

In his speech at the opening of the ethnological exhibitions of the Humboldt Forum on September 22nd, 2021, Federal President Steinmeier said: "Museums that not only present artifacts that seriously confront the history of colonialism will have to look different from traditional museums."

Criticism of the architecture

Criticism is mainly of elements of the palace dome, both of the cross at the top on the imperial orb and of an inscription in golden letters that runs around the drum and reflects Christianity 's claim to power : “There is no other salvation, it is also no other name given to the people, because the name of Jesus, in honor of the Father, that in the name of Jesus all knees should bow down who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. ”This, so the criticism, contradicts the open and modern claim of the Humboldt Forum.

Proponents of the dome cross refer to the democratic resolution for a faithful reconstruction and the importance of the cross as a symbol. Markus Dröge , the then bishop of the Evangelical Regional Church , turned against criticism of the dome cross with reference to the “conciliatory spirit of the cross”. It is "completely improper to claim today that the symbol of the cross would prevent a dialogue between cultures on an equal footing," said Dröge. Also Aiman Mazyek , the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany , defended the dome cross. “The cross belongs on the palace dome because the building has a historical context, and this historical context has to do with Christianity and Christian symbolism,” says Mazyek. One should not obscure this context or obsessively abolish it.

A second inscription is engraved all around the Reichsapfel installed in 2020: “In memory of my husband Werner A. Otto 1909–2011. Inga Maren Otto ” . The widow of the entrepreneur Werner Otto had donated one million euros for the cross and could wish for this dedication on the orb under the cross at the top of the Humboldt Forum building. The Süddeutsche Zeitung headlined: "Otto thinks it's good."

More than in other German cultural institutions, the history of the location, the architecture of the building and the content shown in the Humboldt Forum are “superimposed levels, charged with symbolic politics,” said art historian Laura Goldenbaum. The cross does not only act as the crowning of the roof of the dome. The Humboldt Forum principle could take the inscription literally. Alexander von Humboldt, about whom even his brother Wilhelm was unable to say whether he had 'religion or not', according to Rosenbaum, perhaps would have preferred a universally crossless dome, in which earth and cosmos and also the different cultures would be reflected equally .

Niklas Maak wrote in the FAZ that the interior, Franco Stella's brightly illuminated grid architecture, is reminiscent of large shopping centers, of airport office buildings with long escalators. The subsequent crossing resembles the inner courtyard of a Motel One . “Friends of old Berlin” should only look at the palace from the outside. The Morgenpost wrote that the interiors were designed in a modern way - white, simple and purely functional.

Criticism of the open space design

Schlossplatz with Neptune Fountain and green areas, around 1900

In January 2013 the Berlin office bbz Landschaftsarchitekten received the 1st prize in the competition for the open space design environment Humboldtforum . The plans envisage a modern design of the castle surroundings, but allow a return of historical elements. These include the eagle column on the corner of Schloß Freiheit (destroyed in 1950), the Rossebändiger on Lustgarten (moved to Kleistpark in 1945 ) and the Neptune Fountain on Schloßplatz (moved to the park by the TV tower in 1969 ). A representative survey by Infratest dimap in May 2017 showed that 65% of the population preferred a historic castle environment; only 20% wanted a modern environment. The place of the previous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial planned unit Monument is only half of the Berlin agreement.

Regarding the decision for the stone-modern open space design, André Schmitz ( SPD ) stated in February 2020: “I was in many jury meetings, but the one from 2013 was the worst.” He had the feeling that the design plans “the Are the revenge of those who did not want the castle, ”said the Secretary of State for Culture at the time. Schmitz asked whether it was the "revenge of the old 68ers " that Berlin had rejected 13 million euros in federal funds for the return of the Neptune Fountain. In the taz , Uwe Rada criticized the planned environment for the Humboldt Forum as a denial of reality. Many people would also like the Neptune Fountain to return to Schlossplatz.


Web links

Commons : Humboldt Forum  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references and comments

  1. About us. Retrieved July 28, 2021 .
  2. Berliner Morgenpost: Humboldt Forum opens: construction cost 680 million euros. July 20, 2021, accessed on July 20, 2021 (German).
  3. ^ Georg Dehio: Handbook of German Art Monuments, Berlin . Ed .: Sibylle Badstübner-Gröger, Michael Bollé. 3. Edition. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-422-03111-1 , p. 63 .
  4. Construction projects in Berlin: HUF on
  5. Sources: Press dossier architecture of the Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace, December 16, 2020 ( PDF ) and donation stand facades of the Friends of the Berlin Palace, status: 11/2020 ( web link ). Calculation: 677 million euros total costs minus 105 million euros private donations = 572 million euros public funds
  6. The time has come. In: db deutsche bauzeitung. July 4, 2013, accessed July 27, 2021 .
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Coordinates: 52 ° 31 ′ 3 ″  N , 13 ° 24 ′ 10 ″  E