In a city overrun with enticing cultural offerings, Berlin is anticipating a project unlike any other. The Humboldt Forum, developed over the past decade on a historic site at the heart of the city, will occupy a floor area of more than 30,000 square meters, bringing together the arts and sciences in a way rarely seen before.
Inspired by the brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt (among Germany’s greatest thinkers on education, culture, science, and nature), the complex will be home to four institutions: the Ethnological Museum, Asian Art Museum, Humboldt University, and Stadtmuseum Berlin (the local history museum). Cafes, shops, and restaurants will be offered as well.
The US$700 million development project, which hasn’t been shy in voicing aims to be a global center for culture, has been described as the German equivalent of London’s British Museum. Once fully realized, the Forum will offer an event program packed with music, theater, dance, performance, literature, film, and media.
“The Humboldt Forum represents a very special opportunity for culture, art, science, and improving our understanding of the world,” says the Forum’s general director, Hartmut Dorgerloh. The complex sits in the historic heart of Berlin, across from the beloved Museum Island along the River Spree.
In 2002, the German parliament approved the partial reconstruction of the Berlin Palace, which dated back to the 15th century. After suffering significant damage during World War II, the Palace, which was first used as a fortress and castle, was demolished in 1950. During the early 1970s, the East German government constructed its new Palace of the Republic on the site, which later sat empty and dilapidated after reunification. Earlier this century, the German Bundestag decided a new building should be created behind the restored facade of the earlier Baroque building, and that it would be a home for the new Humboldt Forum.