Humboldt Forum

Humboldt Forum Highlights Discussion #4: Vishnu, Zeus & Co

Press release

Berlin, 10 January 2019

As part of the Humboldt Forum Highlights season, the Humboldt Forum invites you to attend the discussion Vishnu, Zeus & Co on Thursday, 31 January 2019, at 7:30 pm in the Rotunda of the Altes Museum, Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin. The Indian divine figure Vishnu, which is currently exhibited among the ancient gods in the Altes Museum, will be the starting point for experts to discuss and compare Western and Eastern deities. The evening will be moderated by actress and journalist Paula D. Koch. Admission is fre of charge.

Registrations to attend will be accepted until 30 January 2019 at Media representatives should please contact Michael Mathis at for mandatory accreditation.

Our world has many different faces. Religions with multiple gods echo this earthly diversity with “heavenly” equivalents. The colourful world of humans is juxtaposed with an assorted collection of deities: male and female, with various temperaments and functions. They create and destroy, make war and peace, grant and deny wishes. People turn to them in emergencies, and regard them as role models and spiritual reference points. The gods also represent energies which give the world a further dimension – one that extends beyond humanity. That was the case in Greek and Roman antiquity as much as it is now in Hinduism, a religion that with over a billion believers is the third largest spiritual community in the world today.

Eventually, the Hindu pantheon will be on show in the Humboldt Forum – right next door to the gods of classical antiquity in the Altes Museum. For now, a statue of the Hindu god Vishnu is making a guest appearance in the Rotunda – one of the most beautiful rooms of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – where the representative of the Indian pantheon occupies pride of place among the Greek and Roman gods.

Both like and unlike its classical counterparts, the Indian statue will be challenging a West–East panel to ask questions and take part in a comparative discussion. Martin Maischberger, classical archaeologist, museum curator and deputy director of the Collection of Classical Antiquities, will be speaking on behalf of the ancient gods; Martina Stoye, curator for the South Asian and South-East Asian art from the Museum für Asiatische Kunst which will be on show in the Humboldt Forum in future, will reveal the messages encoded in the image of Vishnu. Anand Mishra, a Sanskrit expert and computer linguist from Varanasi in India, will contribute some vivid perspectives from the Indian perspective of a Hindu and a religious studies scholar.

Dr. Martin Maischberger is a classical archaeologist and deputy director of the Collection of Classical Antiquities – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. He has curated numerous temporary exhibitions for the museum, including Die griechische Klassik – Idee oder Wirklichkeit (Greek Classicism: Idea or Reality) and The Return of the Gods: Berlin’s Hidden Olympus. His research interests focus on Roman architecture and topography as well as the history of science and museums. Martina Stoye is the curator for South- and South-East Asian art at Berlin’s Museum für Asiatische Kunst. She studied Indology in Tübingen and Berlin and ultimately specialized in the archaeology and history of art of South Asia. After graduating, she worked as a research associate for the history of Indian art at Freie Universität Berlin. She has travelled to India on numerous occasions, and for several years worked as a tour guide for trips to the major monuments and temples of South India. Anand Mishra was born and raised in the Indian city of Varanasi, where his father, a well-known traditional scholar, taught him Sanskrit. After completing a mathematics degree in India, he studied computer linguistics and classical Indology at Heidelberg University, with a doctoral thesis on Sanskrit grammar. Now he is a lecturer in the university’s department of South Asian Cultural and Religious History. He feels bound to and associated with Vishnuism.

Inspired by the eponymous Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt and their delight in exploring the world and comprehending a system linking nature and culture in myriad ways, the Humboldt Forum will establish a new venue for experience, learning and encounter in the heart of Berlin. The presentations by the various Humboldt Forum institutions will bring together a wide range of topics from science and art, nature and culture, history and society, accompanied by many different perspectives from past and present, nearby and far away. As a foretaste, the Humboldt Forum is already exhibiting fifteen Highlights: eight are on show on Berlin’s Museum Island and at the Kulturforum, while a further selection of objects is to be the focus for eight discussions held at locations throughout the city. Details of all fifteen Humboldt Forum Highlights as well as the full programme can be found at

Date Thursday, 31 January 2019
Time 7:30 pm
Venue Altes Museum, Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin
Language German
Admission free of charge
Registration by 30 January 2019 at

Participants Dr. Martin Maischberger, Martina Stoye, Anand Mishra
Moderation Paula D. Koch, actor and journalist

Drinks and snacks will be on offer before the start of the event and during an informal conclusion.

Organizer Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss

Participating institutions Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz with the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin, and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss at the helm.


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Press contact

Michael Mathis
Press Officer Cultural and Digital Communication
+49 151 1617 97 27, Send E-Mail