The opening of the Humboldt-Forum will see the arts and cultures of Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and Oceania brought to the very heart of Berlin. The planned new presentation of the non-European collections of the National Museums in Berlin, due to cover 24,000 sqm of exhibition space, forms one of the core intellectual challenges of the project. To overcome this challenge, the president of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) initiated an international advisory board, consisting of 41 museum and cultural experts from sub-Saharan Africa, Central and East Asia, Latin America, North America, the South Seas and Europe.
In April 2011 the advisory board held a three-day workshop, during which plans for the presentation in the Humboldt-Forum were evaluated and expanded with the involvement of the directors and curators from the Berlin museums. A series of podium discussions and numerous separate talks brought forth a wealth of fresh ideas as to how the National Museums’ non-European collections could be presented in the future Humboldt-Forum in a befitting and modern manner. It was decided, for instance, that the collaboration between the Museum of Ethnology and the Museum of Asian Art should be strengthened in the Humboldt-Forum. It was also agreed that the degree of cooperation with institutions abroad and with the source communities should be broadened to enhance current collections with objects from source countries. In addition, it was felt that the relationship between contemporary art and the collections themselves must be revised with a responsible eye to their historicity. The aim is to have future exhibitions and plans meet the demands of a globalized world while at the same time making clear how the collections, principally compiled in the 19th century, are also an expression of the age in which they were created.
These debates that came to the fore during the workshop are now to be scrutinized in more detail by smaller groups as to how they could apply to the various collections and regions covered. The advisory board will remain involved in this later stage of the process, allowing the overall plan and the ideas for the individual collections and sections to gain more concrete form. Members of the Advisory Board with Hermann Parzinger, President of
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Viola König, Director of the Museum of Ethnology , Klaas Ruitenbeek, Director of the Museum of Asian Art and Curators of both Museums.