Humboldt Lab Dahlem: Testing Ground for the Future Humboldt Forum

Humboldt Forum

How can a museum facing today’s global changes open up its collections of non-European art and artefacts in a way that is simultaneously immediate and arresting as well as learned? As the future site of the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (both currently still situated in Berlin-Dahlem), the Humboldt-Forum will one day embody the solutions to this question. The Humboldt Lab Dahlem was set up in the run-up to preparations for the Forum to generate experimental ideas that can flow into the future concept planning. The first wave of results are on public display from mid-March to May 2013 in several small exhibitions and interventions in the Dahlem museums. Besides curators and academics, several artists and architects are also involved in the project. Together, they pick up on topical issues relating to curatorship and display, and play with different ideas, approaches, and exhibition forms.

The 'Museum of Vessels’, curated by Nicola Lepp, is one such example of a cross-cultural and cross-collection exhibition strategy that breaks with the principle of arranging objects according to chronology and region. It also makes use of the medium of film in an innovative way. In 'Layering Meanings’, Andreas Heller sensitizes himself to the complex and multi-layered meanings inherent in selected exhibits and communicates them to the viewer. 'See Music’, meanwhile, grapples with the question of how to construct an exhibition that, although sound-based, is also visually arresting and which comprises the musical instruments held in the ethnomusicology collection and the recordings in the Phonogramm-Archiv.