Headline, August 12 2021/ GERMANY : ''' '' HUMBOLDT FORUM HISTORIC '' '''



 HISTORIC '' '''

!VOICES FROM THE ITEMS! : A MUSEUM OPENS WITH ARTIFACTS AND BAGGAGE. Amid spectacular pieces at the Humboldt Forum are questions of provenance.

Featuring about 200 items - including numerous spectacular pieces of jewelry, ornate sculptures and one of the world's oldest preserved musical instruments, an ivory flute - the exhibition was organized in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, among others.

In a dramatic touch the space has been painted red and interspersed with loudspeakers playing the sound of a dying elephant's breathing. Alongside the ivory objects, thee show also features artifacts depicting colonial exploitation and mistreatment, and video monitors featuring interviews with people whose lives were affected by the ivory trade, including a Kenyan park ranger and a safari guide.

Alberto Saviello, one of the show's three curators, said in an interview that his team felt it was important to include voices from the items' countries of origin and and a responsibility to tell the objects' stories, which ''are often about injustice and violence.''

For almost 20 years, Werner Kohl has followed the saga of Humboldt Forum. Like many Germans, he has been watching and listening since 2002, when the government approved a plan for that huge new cultural attraction in Berlin. That nearly two decades of debate, protest, overspend delay.

So just weeks ago, when he finally stood in the building's darkened exhibition spaces, he was thrilled, he said.

''I've been looking forward to this day from the beginning,'' Kohl said. '' I'm here to see if it delivers on what it proposed.''

Kohl, 53, was there to see ''Terrible Beauty,'' a temporary exhibition of ivory artifacts ranging across 40,000 years. It was one of the six inaugural shows in the Forum, which brings together several museum collections in a reconstructed Baroque palace.

Located on the site of the demolished East German Parliament and conceived as Germany's equivalent to the Louvre, the Humboldt Forum was originally scheduled to open in 2019 but ran into construction delays. It is now opening in phases during the next two years.

In addition to the ivory exhibition, the Humboldt Forum is also presenting ''Berlin Global,'' a display about the city's relationship to the world a conceptual show exploring human life after climate change; and spaces dedicated to the history of the site.

The Forum's most disputed section is yet to open : floors containing thousands of ethnological artifacts from a variety of cultures, including a spectacular African throne and large wooden boats from South Pacific, many of which were acquired during Germany's expansionist imperial phase. Anticolonial activists have argued that the Humboldt Forum has not gone far enough in investigating the provenance of the objects.

In an agreement negotiated this spring, much of Berlin's collection of Benin Bronzes, which were set to be exhibited in the building, is to be returned to Nigeria next year. But the process of deciding what the Forum should do about items with more ambiguous histories is likely to be a messier endeavour.

On July 20, when the museum opened, protesters gathered outside, chanting slogans like ''Defund the Humboldt Forum.''

The opening week was the first opportunity for curators to present what they argue is a forward-thinking and inclusive manner of showing artifacts with colonial associations to a broad audience. Although the Humboldt Forum held its official opening ceremony online in December, pandemic restrictions have forced it to remain closed to the public until now.

Some have argued that the prolonged closure might have been to its advantage, giving administrators longer to resolve some of the $825 million building's technical problems.

In May, Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper cited a confidential memo from the project's head of construction, Hans-Dieter Hegner, which said that the systems managing the building's air conditioning and security alarms were ''still in a very bad state,'' and that continuing defects ''endanger the cultural artifacts that had already been installed.''

In an interview this month, the Humboldt Forum's director, Hartmut Dorgerloh, said that he was acutely aware of the delicateness of some of the ivory items, which require careful monitoring of temperature, humidity and light, and develop cracks if conditions change too fast. ''It's demanding from a conservation point of view,'' he said.

''We are exhibiting 40,000-year- old items in Berlin for the first time, in a building that's been around for less than 10 years.'' But he emphasized that the climate-control system in the area where the items are being exhibited was fully functional and that no items were in danger. ''The climate in this area is very stable,'' he said.

Dorgerloh said that the show was an appropriate way of opening the Humboldt Forum because it reflected his goal of ''crating a space in which we can share experiences,'' rather than merely depicting cultures.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Happenings and Accomplishments in the World, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Thomas Rogers.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders and people of Germany, Students, Professors and Teachers and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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