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Humboldt Forum

Berlin, Germany

Located in the reconstructed Berlin Palace on Berlin’s Museum Island, the Humboldt Forum is envisioned as an international forum of art, culture, and science. Across 170,000 square feet over two floors of the building, RAA was asked to design spaces for the permanent exhibitions of the State Ethnological Museum and Museum of Asian Art. These represent Germany’s most comprehensive non-European collections—unique artistic and cultural artifacts from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania.

Thematic exhibition modules, family areas, activity rooms, listening spaces, multimedia installations and visible study collections provide a multifaceted stage to engage in active dialogue with and between the world’s cultures. The exhibitions engage in a proactive dialogue about the history and provenance of collections and celebrate the diversity of human experience and achievements.

The collections of the Ethnology Museum and Museum of Asian Art occupy over half of the Humboldt Forum’s entire interior area and form the heart of this new institution. Far more than an aesthetic display of some 24,000 historic objects, the exhibitions were designed as a dynamic platform for intercultural discourse around historic and contemporary events and ideas.

The exhibitions are organized by continents and geographical regions for the visitors’ overall sense of orientation. Within these regions, the exhibitions are thematically curated—40 distinct exhibitions each with their own curatorial concept. The whole exhibition is thus decisively not encyclopedic, but multifaceted and non-linear. The project provides a captivating and emotionally engaging immersive stage for flexible and adaptive messaging, able to connect deeply and emotionally into cultural heritages while also addressing contemporary perspectives and topics.

Since its second partial opening in September 2021 under restrictive COVID-pandemic conditions with limited timed-ticket entry, the Humboldt Forum already received over 100,000 visitors in its first 3 months.

Size 170,000 square feet

Year 2021

AwardsGerman Design Award: Winner, Excellent Architecture, Fair and ExhibitioniF Design Awards: Winner, Interior ArchitectureGRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 15e édition: Gold Certification, Interior DesignGerman Design Award: Winner, Excellent Architecture, Fair and ExhibitionIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) : FinalistArchitecture MasterPrize: Winner, Interior design/ExhibitionMUSE Design Award: Silver, Exhibits, Pavilions & Exhibitions