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Still young at 250! Celebrating the birthday of Alexander von Humboldt

Press release

Berlin, 15. September 2019

A rip-roaring celebration at the Humboldt Forum to mark Alexander von Humboldt’s 250th birthday

The two-day public celebrations marking Alexander von Humboldt’s 250th birthday, organized by the Humboldt Forum together with the Goethe-Institut, ended as a resounding success on Saturday evening. Around 7,000 visitors joined in the weekend’s joyful festivities at the Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss under the watchword “250 years young!” The programme included plenty of attractive offerings for everyone from specialists to families: the celebrations featured approximately sixty international artists and experts with a special focus on Latin America. Various artistic formats strikingly emphasized the enduring relevance of Alexander von Humboldt while simultaneously encouraging critical debate. To mark the anniversary, the Humboldt Forum’s function rooms were temporarily opened for exhibitions, installations and performances for the first time.

Admission to the varied array of events comprising exhibitions, installations, performances, music, lectures and discussions was free of charge. Additionally, two large-format projections on the eastern facade of the Humboldt Forums caused a considerable stir. The projections were a cooperative project between the Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, the Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and indigenous natural scientists. Contributions to the birthday programme hailed from far and wide, including Berlin, Bogotá, Lima, London, Mexico City, Novosibirsk, Potsdam, Quito and the Amazon region.

Hartmut Dorgerloh, director general of the Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, said on Saturday evening that he was very happy with the event. “Critical artistic stances, surprising performances, numerous new encounters, stimulating discussions and music and dancing far into the night – at this birthday party, the artists and the audience turned a construction site into a vibrant forum.”

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the president of the Goethe-Institut, opened the live discussion Conéxion Humboldt between experts from Berlin, Bogotá and Novosibirsk and stressed the productive cooperation between the two institutions. “It’s about looking at Humboldt through modern eyes – this birthday party, which was made possible through the close collaboration between Stiftung Humboldt Forum and the Goethe-Institut, shows that the Humboldt Forum is not a monument, but a living place; not a pedestal, but a place for direct experience and discussion. This is transparent, contemporary society.”

At the opening of the ceremony for invited guests on Saturday morning, Monika Grütters, the minister of state for culture, emphasised that Alexander von Humboldt remains on trend even today: “In the face of increasing racist and nationalist segregation and marginalization, he blazes a trail not only for an approach to all peoples that is as self-confident as it is cosmopolitan, but also for the ideal of an equitable dialogue between the various cultures of the world.”

The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, talked about Alexander von Humboldt’s role as a transnational, popular ambassador for Berlin. The keynote speech by historian Miruna Achim of Mexico City addressed Humboldt’s work from an American perspective. At the end of the ceremony, Bettina Hagedorn, secretary of state in the ministry of finance, presented an Alexander von Humboldt commemorative 20 euro coin to five artists involved in the celebrations.

The Humboldt Forum is scheduled to open in the Berlin Palace from September 2020 onwards.

250 years young! Alexander von Humboldt’s birthday

Programme: Lavinia Frey (Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss), Andrea Rostásy; Joachim Bernauer (Goethe-Institut) and Wenzel Bilger (Goethe-Institut)
An event organised by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss (SHF) in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut as part of the Humboldt Year.

The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss is funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media and by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, as well as on the basis of a resolution by the German Federal Parliament.

The programme items La naturaleza de las cosas: Humboldt, idas y venidas, Experimenta/Sur: Tejidos conectivos, Humboldt360°| Eine Expedition in Lateinamerika and Humboldt Hackatón de realidad mixta are part of the Humboldt y las Americas season of events, supported by funding from the Federal Foreign Office. The projection O Ciclo Anual no Rio Tiquié is a cooperation between the SHF, the Ethnologisches Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

Media partners: Deutsche Welle, rbb

The actors participating in the Humboldt Forum are the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) with the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (SMB), Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin, and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), with the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss (SHF) at the helm.

Further information is available at:
humboldtforum.org/avh250
#AvH250

A thematic dossier compiled by the Goethe-Institut, containing interviews, films, pictures and articles relating to the event, will be available online from 13 September at goethe.de/humboldt250

Press contact

Michael Mathis, press officer for the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, +49 151 1617 97 27,michael.mathis@humboldtforum.org

Dr. Jessica Kraatz Magri, press officer for the Goethe-Institut , +49 89 1592 12 49, jessica.kraatzmagri@goethe.de

Press photographs are available to download at: humboldtforum.org/press

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partners

The event is being organised by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut as part of the Humboldt Year.
  • Goethe-Institut
  • Humboldt 250