Berlin at a Loss for Ideas for its €595 Million Humboldt Forum

A rendering of what the finished construction will look like Photo: Eldaco via Wikimedia Commons

The indecision surrounding Berlin’s €595 million ($630.9 million) Humboldt Forum continues, FAZ reports. A debate has broken out over the future use of the mammoth project, which is essentially a reconstruction of Berlin’s baroque City Palace which was inhabited by the Kings of Prussia and the German Emperors.

The original 15th century palace was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1945 and finally demolished by the communist East German government in 1950. Following a resolution passed by the German Parliament, the Bundestag, to rebuild the palace, the Berlin Palace–Humboldt Forum Foundation has been appointed as its commissioning body in 2009. The reconstruction is expected to be completed by 2020.

In the initial proposal the building was supposed to house Berlin’s Central and State Library. But what the proposal describes as a “modern library service,” featured hardly any books. Visitors would have had to order the books from the main site of the national library, only fifty meters away, where the books would then be transported in an underground passageway to the Humboldt Forum.

Recognizing the absurdity of this idea, Berlin’s new Mayor Michael Müller (see Will Berlin Mayor’s Resignation Spawn Culture Shake-Up?) proposed to scrap the library concept in Berlin’s State Parliament on Monday, and replace it with a museum about the history and development of the city of Berlin instead. The idea was widely accepted by state parliamentarians.

However, Manfred Rettig, Chairman of the Berlin City Palace and Humboldt Forum Foundation warned that the plans for the library are already in place and that any changes would further increase the costs of the already costly project.

Meanwhile according to Art Magazin the President of Berlin’s Humboldt University, Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, has criticized the new plans. He insisted that any institution bearing the Humboldt name should revolve around language, in reference to the linguist, philosopher, and Humboldt University founder Wilhem von Humboldt.


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