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After Nature: Inaugural Exhibition of the Humboldt Laboratory

The Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is making the crisis and interactions of natural and social systems the basis for its first exhibition in the Humboldt Forum

School of Fish

Rendering of the projection of a school of fish ©schnellbuntebilder

Humans have inscribed their presence in all ecosystems, in the earth’s atmosphere, and even in the deep geological layers of the planet. In this context, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin will be opening the Humboldt Laboratory in the Humboldt Forum on 6th January 2021 with its inaugural exhibition “After Nature”. The show reveals how the connections between political orders and nature are responsible for this transformation, and how, conversely, environmental and resource-related issues have an immense influence on all systems of political order.The exhibition in the Humboldt Forum encompasses a 150-square-metre foyer and a main hall covering 600 square metres, and is located on the first floor of the Humboldt Forum. Entry to the Humboldt Laboratory is free.

“The exchange between science and society is being reconceived in the Humboldt Laboratory. We show what research can contribute when it comes to solving current challenges and test how we can move from knowledge to understanding and, above all, to action. Challenges such as climate change or the crisis of democracy require science and society to come together.” 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Dr Sabine Kunst, President of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Research questions and approaches to solutions from the world of science

Scientists of various disciplines discuss the dramatically changing relationships between humans and the environment as well as the challenges of liberal social orders, for example, as a result of nationalism, authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism or social movements. Both crises, ecological and social, are closely intertwined. The exhibition makes these complex interactions visible. On a kinetic wall, researchers enter into a dialogue with each other and with the public. Old objects from the collections of the HU and other universities place these current issues in a historical perspective. Three scientific archives are being revisited for the exhibition and, when viewed together, enable a space for in-depth historical examination of the questions raised by the exhibition. Before entering the exhibition space, the audience passes by an interactive projection of a school of fish. This projection makes direct reference to human intervention in nature and the sensitivity of ecosystems. The design of the exhibition is itself reminiscent of a modern cabinet of curiosities in which different objects are constantly entering into new relationships with one another via a movable hanging system. The exhibition will be continuously updated.

In addition to the seven Clusters of Excellence of the Berlin University Alliance, numerous institutes and departments of the HU, with their national and international partner organisations, as well as student research projects and initiatives, play a part in shaping the content of the exhibition.

The Humboldt Laboratory is a project of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the Humboldt Forum. Its partner is the Joachim Herz Foundation. It is funded within the framework of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and States by the Berlin University Alliance – the consortium of the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Further information

Website of the Humboldt Labor


Boris Nitzsche
Deputy Press Spokesperson and Press Officer Humboldt Labor

Tel.: +49 30 2093-2945