Humboldt Forum

Humboldt Forum Highlights. Heralding the Future Collections in the Humboldt Forum

Press release

Berlin, 23 October 2018

Ahead of its opening in late 2019, the Humboldt Forum is already proud to present fifteen Highlights from the diverse and internationally outstanding collections which can be experienced in the future Humboldt Forum. From October 2018 to May 2019 eight of these Highlights will be on display in an exhibition on Museum Island as well as in the Kulturforum, and a further selection will be presented in eight talks at assorted venues in Berlin. Information on all fifteen Humboldt Forum Highlights as well as the complete programme is available at

In future, around 20,000 works of art and nature, spiritual objects and everyday items will be on display on the ground floor of the Humboldt Forum and the three storeys above. In the respective presentations of the collections of the Ethnologisches Museum, the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in the Berlin exhibition by Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin, as well as in the exhibition on the history of the site by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, they convey the great diversity of the subject matter from the domains of science and art, nature and culture, history and society, as well as the range of perspectives from yesterday and today, near and far, which will be reconfigured in the heart of Berlin.

Illustrating this diversity – pars pro toto – and in combination with all the partners, the Humboldt Forum is already making a series of selected objects and themes from all sections of the exhibition available to the public in a wide variety of ways. Taking objects such as the humped bull Nandi, the wet specimen of a gorilla hand, a marble statue of Friedrich III, a featherwork Madonna and a safe door as their starting point, from October 2018 to May 2019 a number of stories will be told from different perspectives – stories which are embedded in the objects and their different provenances. Selected by the respective actors, these forerunners will not be able to answer all the questions. However, it will be clear that they, like all the other objects, are like jigsaw pieces of human knowledge, signposting the history of our world.

Exhibition on Museum Island / Kulturforum

At the venues of the host institutions, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin present their Highlights for the Humboldt Forum from the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst: in the Altes Museum the Indian Hindu God Vishnu, in the Neues Museum the so-called barrigón figure from Guatemala, the Aztec eagle-serpent cuauhcoatl, a Mayan vase, a Colombian cacique, and the Sope from Micronesia. The most prominent appearance is reserved for the processional bull Nandi, which will find a temporary home in the Babylonian Processional Way in the Pergamonmusuem. From November 2018 the intricately designed featherwork mosaic of a Madonna from Pátzcuaro in Mexico, which Alexander von Humboldt probably brought back from his trip to America, can be seen in the Gemäldegalerie.

Eight Discussions at Different Venues in Berlin

What do lacquer and breakdance have to do with the intricately designed featherwork picture of a Madonna? What connects processions, pilgrims and parades with the South Indian humped bull Nandi? Why are elephants, gorillas and bees also moving into the Humboldt Forum? These questions and many more will be addressed by international experts, eyewitnesses and representatives from the Humboldt Forum in various discussions. In a total of eight events, they will take a selection of highlights and weave exciting stories from very different cultures and epochs, current research results and personal experiences to create surprising and sometimes astounding narratives. Around once a month for half a year or more there will be new insights into the multifaceted thematic world of the Humboldt Forum as a place for lively exchange.

On Friday 26 October 2018 at 7:30 pm the first discussion on a Humboldt Forum Highlight will be held: PROCESSIONS – PILGRIMS – PARADES. Taking the humped bull Nandi as their starting point, experts will discuss the movement of people and gods. On Thursday 15 November 2018, also at 7:30 pm, the second discussion ELEPHANT – BEE – GORILLA will be dedicated to the animals in the Humboldt Forum, inspired by the gorilla hand in the collection of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Inspired by the eponymous Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt and their joy in exploring the world with open eyes and comprehending it as an interwoven system of nature and culture, the Humboldt Forum will establish a new venue for experiencing, learning and encounter. They illustrate the diversity of themes from science and art, nature and culture, history and society, as well as the different perspectives from yesterday and today, near and far, which will be reconfigured in the heart of Berlin. Throughout, these material witnesses provide a first impression of the plethora of exciting histories and contemporary issues they are connected with. And it remains to be seen whether further, completely unexpected connections can be discovered.

Humboldt Forum Highlights


Exhibition of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Date 23 October 2018 to 26 May 2019
Locations Pergamonmuseum, Neues Museum, Altes Museum (until 3 February 2019), Gemäldegalerie (27 November 2018 to 24 February 2019)


Prorgamme Eight discussions
Date 26 October 2018 to 9 May 2019
Venue various venues, admission free, registration up to one day before the event at First discussion PROCESSIONS – PILGRIMS – PARADES: Gods and People in Movement, Friday, 26 October 2018, 7:30 pm, Pergamonmuseum, Bodestraße 1–3, 10178 Berlin
Second discussion ELEPHANT – BEE – GORILLA. Animals in the Humboldt Forum, Thursday 15 November 2018, 7:30 pm, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Campus Nord, Emil-Fischer Auditorium, Hessische Straße 1, 10115 Berlin

Further information available at

Organizer Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, and for the exhibition the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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


Download the press release as a PDF
Press photographs – objects
Press photographs – exhibitions

Press contact

Humboldt Forum Kultur GmbH

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

Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Stefan Müchler
Department for Media and Communication
Press and Public Relations for the Humboldt Forum
+49 151 52751584, Send e-mail

Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH

Jana Sperling
Communication Coordinator
Berlin Exhibition in the Humboldt Forum
+49 30 247 49-859, Send e-mail

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Jens Wagner
Humboldt Labor in the Humboldt Forum
+49 30 2093 2275, Send e-mail