Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt are celebrated today as German cosmopolitans. They embody the achievements of public education, a new view of nature and an unbiased view of cultures beyond Europe. Her biographies, however, are also marked by the contrasts of her time.
The image of human equality in the Enlightenment opposes the existence of colonialism and slavery. The rediscovery of nature goes hand in hand with its mastery and destruction. International exchange and cooperation do not prevent national demarcation.
The German Historical Museum shows the first major exhibition about Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt in Germany. She locates the brothers as Europeans in the context of their time. It looks at social and political spaces for negotiation and organization, examines the relationship between knowledge and power, and sheds light on how historical consciousness, politics, science and economics change the perspective on humans and their environment. In doing so, questions arise about the actuality and evaluation of their attitudes and actions in our present time.
The exhibition is curated by David Blankenstein and Bénédicte Savoy.