Humans are the only beings who know that they will die. The awareness of our transience fuels art, culture, and science and confronts us with existential, individual, and global questions. The Humboldt Forum addresses this topic with a polyphonic programme that includes a theatrically staged special exhibition, educational and event programmes, and an accompanying publication.


How do we live with death? What is a good death? What will remain of us? Visitors embark on a tour of the exhibition starting out with these questions and a cinematic prologue about the role of Homo Sapiens in the universe. What makes this special is that the topic is rendered tangible by multimedia and interactive installations and spatial experiences. Members of different religious communities talk about the way they see the afterlife. They become part of a video conference with people from twelve countries who have in common that they accompany other people on their path into death. An audio and light narrative explains the dying process from scientific and medical perspectives. Visitors learn about traditions of handling the bodies of the deceased and Islamic corpse washing. And they are confronted with issues far beyond their own scope: How (un)equal are living and dying conditions around the world? What responsibility do we bear for the deaths of other people? And given the current extinction of species, is even our own species at risk of self-extinction?

A free booklet will be published to accompany the exhibition. It provides guidance, background information on the various acts and scenes, as well as cross-references to the publication.

Audre Lorde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and many other strong literary voices have reflected on dying, mourning, and death. In the final gallery of the exhibition, visitors can browse through a selection of novels, non-fiction, and children’s books compiled by Philipp Khabo Koepsell.

Guided Tours and Workshops

Would you rather approach the topic together with others? Guided tours and workshops for adults and students 7th grade and up consider the exhibition based on the question “How do we live with death?” Together they will discover, discuss, and question the theatrically staged galleries and make connections to the presentations in the Humboldt Forum. The workshops have been developed in cooperation with the Björn Schulz Foundation, which provides professional support for terminally ill children and their families. Advanced training for educators and multipliers is planned as well.


The focus of the programme of events is on a lively discussion and reflection on death across art forms and generations. During consultation hours, you can talk directly to a terminal caregiver, a pathologist, a policewoman, or a funeral speaker. Engage in discussions with filmmakers and scientists during Movie Night. Experience intimations of death and solace through music at an Easter weekend concert by the Resident Music Collective. Relive stories about death for adults and children and look at picture books about dying and death with, and through, children’s eyes. As a highlight of the event programme, we invite you and your friends to the Mexican festival of the dead in the Humboldt Forum, an event featuring music, performance, a family programme, and an altar that you help decorate.

Publication accompanying the exhibition

Examining the topic from different perspectives, the publication assembles documental contributions, essays, interviews, and artistic photo series, including a text by philosopher Stephen Cave on “Four Ways to Live Forever,” conversations with twelve representatives of different faiths on “Contemporary Ideas about the Afterlife,” Klaus Bo’s photo series “Dead and Alive,” and contributions by Cristina Cattaneo, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and numerous others. The publication will be available in the Humboldt Forum shop and for ordering online beginning in late March.

The complete programme will be available here shortly.