Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt are the namesakes of the Humboldt Forum. Their way of networked thinking, their curiosity and openness are formative for the way the Forum shapes itself. The exhibition Insights. The Humboldt Brothers sheds light on their work, the circumstances of the time and creates links to the principles and content of the Humboldt Forum.
Alexander von Humboldt travelled through parts of South and North America and later through Russia to the Chinese border. Wilhelm von Humboldt travelled to the borders of Europe and lived in Paris, Rome, London and Vienna.
They had the privilege of wealth, the best education, and contacts with powerful people and scholars in many countries. For their exploration of nature, cultures and languages, they collaborated with people all over the world. In a larger context, they contributed to the endeavor of European science to explain the world in its small details and large contexts.
The travel of European explorers and the gathering of knowledge about the world was inextricably linked to the power that Europe wielded in other regions of the world.
The expansion of Europe's sphere of influence relied not only on the force of arms and the constraints of trade, but also on the intellectual preparation and input of naturalists, cartographers, geologists, anthropologists, and linguists. Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt were all of these.
They took a stand against colonial economic interests and the enslavement and exploitation of people, and for diversity of culture, responsibility towards nature and justice. And yet they do not stand outside, but are part of the European claim to think not only about, but for the world.
The name of the Humboldt Forum is a reminder of two extraordinary brothers. Its programme obliges us to bring them to it not as heroes, but as part of a past that is relevant to the questions of the present and the responsibility for the future. This includes connecting not only with their ideas and achievements, but also giving voice to the people they wrote about and whose plants, artifacts, and languages they explored.
Glimpses of the exhibition are provided by the windows of the Passage to the central staircase. The passage is accessible 24 hours a day.
Price info: No time slot ticket required.