urban development berlin

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Opening of the Humboldt Forum: Interview with Michael Mathis

The opening of the Humboldt Forum is one of three major projects – in addition to the opening of the BER and the extension of the U5 underground line – which are due at the end of this year and will generate a great deal of attention beyond the borders of Berlin.

In an interview with Michael Mathis, the Foundation’s press spokesman, we learned how exactly the partial opening of the Humboldt Forum will proceed, what plans and visitor concepts there are, and how the responsible “Foundation Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace” is dealing with the current corona situation.

URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Dear Mr. Mathis, first of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. First of all, a very practical question. The Humboldt Forum will now be partially opened on December 17. Why did you choose this date?

Michael Mathis: There is no specific reason for the choice of December 17. We simply wanted to open before the holidays, so that visitors in those days would have the opportunity to visit the Humboldt Forum.

Which parts of the Humboldt Forum will visitors be able to see and visit from December 17? And how do you get the tickets?

From 17 December 2020, the new city quarter with the Schlüterhof and the Passage will be accessible around the clock for the first time. In the Schlüterhof, artists from the international Berlin communities will use the facades for large-format video projections and the portals for sound installations. And in the Schlosskeller and on the first floor, presentations on the history of the place and, in the Passage, one on the Humboldt brothers, who gave the building its name, can be experienced for the first time. Tickets for the individual slots can be booked on our website humboldtforum.org from December.


What will not be open for the time being and, of course, the question afterwards, when will the public see these parts?

We will open in stages and start with the first floor in December. At the beginning of 2021, three more exhibitions will open and the program will successively start in trial operation. “Take a seat! An exhibition for children”, centrally located on the first floor, will make it clear from January 3, 2021 that children and families have an important place in the Humboldt Forum from the very beginning. The exhibition will then continue on the second floor. There the Humboldt Laboratory will open on January 7 with the interactive exhibition “Nach der Natur (After Nature)” and from January 16 with the exhibition “BERLIN GLOBAL”, a co-production of Kulturprojekte Berlin and the Stadtmuseum Berlin.
On the first floor, the first analog and digital events will start. With the opening of the Werkräume in April, we will then offer a wide range of educational and scientific programs.
In late summer 2021, the western side of the second and third floors will open with the collection presentations of the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art of the National Museums in Berlin. With the opening of the west wing, the exhibition areas Oceania and parts of the Ethnological Museum’s Africa collection will be on display. The Museum of Asian Art will also open. At the turn of the year 2021/2022, the opening of the east wing with the other exhibition areas of the two museums will follow.

The opening has been delayed several times due to Corona. Nevertheless, the promise that the Humboldt Forum would open this year was kept. What are you most personally looking forward to at the opening?

I’m most looking forward to the moment when the visitors, the people for whom we’re doing all this for, can conquer the Humboldt Forum as a new piece of Berlin and bring it to life. In other words, I’m looking forward to it finally getting underway, naturally under special regulations due to the Corona pandemic, which will be adapted to the current situation.

Corona keeps us all in a stranglehold. Are you actually afraid that the opening will have to be postponed once again due to the rising number of infections?

Fear less so, especially since we have been able to practice something in the current year that cannot be changed. We’re ready, but of course the protection of our visitors and our employees has priority and we’re watching very closely what the coming weeks will bring.

Dear Mr. Mathis, we thank you for the interview and keep our fingers crossed for a successful and safe opening!


Modern component of the outer shell: the east facade of the Humboldt Forum

The completion of the dome in summer was already accompanied by great attention and controversial discussions.

Another project directly in front of the Eosander Portal: the Unity Monument is being built on the site of the former “Kaiser Wilhelm National Monument”.


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