Long-awaited $800M museum opens in Berlin’s former Royal Palace


written by Katherine Hickley

This article is originally from . was published by art newspaper, editorial partner of Granthshala Style.
Humboldt Forum, a vast new museum complex in a partial reconstruction of the Prussian royal palace in the center of Berlin, opened on tuesday After a postponement of almost two years, construction got delayed first, then by Covid-19.

According to a press spokesperson, the new cultural complex, which had a final budget of over 680 million euros (over $800 million), aims to stage around 1,000 events annually and is expected to welcome 3 million visitors a year. is. While the exterior terrace and courtyard have been accessible to the public since last year, the official opening of the interior was to take place via livestream in December 2020.

But as the outbreak of the pandemic and Germany eased restrictions, six exhibitions have now opened on the first and second floors of the complex.

Inner courtyard of the renovated Berlin Palace. Credits: Ronnie Hartman / AFP / Getty Images

colonial exploitation

One of the exhibitions, “Awesome Beauty. Elephant – Human – Ivory”, explores the history of the global ivory trade in a program developed by the Berlin State Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Kenya. The colonial exploitation, which the show addresses, became the focus of heated debate during the planning and construction of the Humboldt Forum, which would display Berlin’s ethnic collection.

A major science exhibition by Humboldt University titled “Humboldt Lab: After Nature” also opened on Tuesday. It explores the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss on society and democracy. An exhibit geared toward children ages 3 to 10, called “Have a Seat!” It is said that it looks at why, when, where and how different groups and societies sit.

Meanwhile, an interactive permanent exhibition, “Berlin Global”, takes on a few themes to explore Berlin’s relationship with the rest of the world, including revolution, war, entertainment and fashion. The fifth exhibit is dedicated to the brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who gave the complex its name. Born in 1769, Alexander was a naturalist, explorer and geographer, while Wilhelm, two years older, specialized in political theory and the philosophy of language and history.

Visitors interact in the “Berlin Global” exhibition in the reconstructed Berlin Palace that houses the Humboldt Forum. Credits: Ronnie Hartman / AFP / Getty Images

In the basement are some remains of the historic castle walls and a medieval Dominican monastery, which was excavated in 2008. An archaeological exhibit examines the history of the site, while fragments of the original palace from several centuries are displayed in the Sculpture Hall. A video panorama sweeps over eight centuries of the site’s history, emphasizing that it “has always been a work in progress in the service of power.”

work in progress

The Humboldt Forum will be a while in progress: the third and fourth floors of the West Wing open in September, showcasing Berlin’s ethnographic and Asian art collections. These include a Tea House on Japan, a section featuring Chinese imperial art, and parts of the African collection. A rooftop restaurant also opens that month.

Visitors walk through the “After Nature” exhibit. Credits: Ronnie Hartman / AFP / Getty Images

The third and fourth floors of the East Wing, along with the rest of the ethnographic and Asian exhibits, will open in the first half of 2022. Among these are sections on the history of the Afro-Brazilian diaspora in the Amazon region, the global diversity of Islam and Southeast Asian theater traditions. A temporary exhibition of Benin bronze, which Germany has pledged to restore to Nigeria, is also planned.

In the summer months, a number of dance performances, film screenings, concerts and lectures are scheduled, as well as an open-air festival in the Schlüterhof courtyard.

Top image: The German capital’s historic television tower and the renovated Berlin Palace containing the Humboldt Forum.

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