Humboldt Forum Proposal "Word World"

Upon entering the Humboldt Forum, the visitor is confronted with the elemental shape of the circle, in this case with two oversized rings. These rings, 5m in diameter, hang from the ceilings of both portals 1 and 5 in front of the balustrades, which must cross the entrances on each visit.

On closer inspection, these rings are a depiction of the history of the Humboldt brothers in their diversity and complexity. These complex contents are represented by 1124 separate "illuminated picture cubes" arranged in the rings. The physical nature of the image cube, which consists of plastic film designed with painting, allows the visitor to perceive the circles of our worlds. The shape of the circle combines different cycles: e.g. that of climate and biosystems, but the circle is also a symbol in language and culture, it is a tool of education, mathematics and sciences. The presentation, divided into 1124 cubes, represents the manifold continuity of the ideas of the Humboldt brothers and transports them into our time. The appearance of these rings can be understood in this place as a quotation from the monumental wreath of corn which graced the Palace of the Republic in the same place. The emptiness of the rings without a "hammer and compass" emblem underscores the new beginning in a science forum without ideological use.

The two sides of the rings - what is and what was

The two rings together have four sides, all of which are designed differently. These luminous circles are a cross-spatial element that at the same time forms a connection and tension between the contemporary and color neutral architecture of the staircase and the archaic form of the circle and the color of our world.

What is - Curiosity- The front of the rings can also be perceived by the visitor when he looks into the stairwell from a distance. The painting, which is segmented into 281 "illuminated picture cubes", only shows itself in this way.

What was - Clarity - The visitor sees the back of the rings when he climbs the stairs. Here he can take a close look at the 281 individual pictures, which are located at the nearest point only 1.5 m from the balustrade. The back covers the multifaceted aspects of the life of the Humboldt brothers and the history of the place where the Humboldt Forum is created. These 281 images consist of paper reproductions of historical images, drawings and prints that are placed behind the surface of the plastic film in the cubes. This creates a "behind glass" effect. Thus, the visitor not only experiences aspects of science, but is also in the midst of a visual culture of remembrance.

Staircase 1 - "Word" - Wilhelm von Humboldt, polymath and linguist

The ascent through Staircase 1 leads the visitor to the work of art "Word", which brings us closer to Wilhelm von Humboldt's scientific innovations and lets us understand how Humboldt was able to gain insights into similar yet diverse natural phenomena as well as peoples and their languages could create a base of rules. Dealing with languages s compared here with the bee's communication, and the "bee dance" is represented as a line, as the language of the bee is communicated through paths and movement. This line of dance is engraved into a painted area of olor that symbolizes the perspectives, diversity and values f world cultures

Staircase 5 - "World" - Alexander von Humboldt, traveler and researcher

From afar, the visitor will experience this ring as a bright, energetic intervention. It shows an interpretation of the isotherm map, which was created in 1823 according to Humboldt's research results. This climate map has gained new meaning in modern times and connects us closely with Humboldt. The reflective and translucent plastic film was painted on the inside, reversed. The artistic technique of painting is also historical and yet it is perceived here in a contemporary context.


The two works "World" and "Word" hang from the ceiling, but can easily be moved to facilitate cleaning and maintenance on the staircase. Each image cube contains energy-saving LED spotlights, which create a lighting effect even in daylight or indirect lighting. The construction is lightweight but stable and modularly constructed from well-known and proven materials. Each ring weighs about 230 kg.