Viola König presented in the Museum Conversations Seminar on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 6 pm. Her talk was entitled “Real and Metaphoric Spaces: Perspectives and Positions in the Making of the Future Humboldt Forum at Berlin.”

Viola König is the Director of the Ethnological Museum, Prussian Heritage Foundation in Berlin. Prior to that she was Director of the Übersee Museum Bremen (1992–2001), Director of the Department of Ethnology at the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hanover (1986–1992), and a Curator at the ethnographic museums of Cologne and Hamburg. König has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions, including Aztecs (Berlin, 2003), Cartography of the Tropics (Berlin, 2006), The Tropics–Views from the Middle of the Globe (Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Berlin, Cape Town, Bangkok, 2008–2010), and Native American Modernism(Berlin, 2012). In Bremen she was responsible for the new visible storage building “Übermaxx,” which opened in 1999. König is Honorary Professor for Cultural Sciences at the University of Bremen and for Pre-Columbian Studies and Cultural Anthropology at the Free University Berlin. In 2000 she was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Art at Tulane University. Since 2001 she has been in charge of the exhibition concept for the future Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Currently, she participates in two projects within the Berlin inter-institutional research group, “TOPOI–The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations” (2012–2017).

After fifteen years of planning and defending, debates and criticism, the reconstructed Prussian Palace that will house the future Humboldt Forum has become a visible reality in the center of Berlin. From the very beginning, it was decided that the collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas would be moved from its present location at Berlin Dahlem into the new building. While the collections have not changed, topics, trends, and public as well as academic expectations have changed quickly. In this talk, König discussed how the long process of building and planning the Humboldt Forum is conflicting with the varying expectations of the political principals, an ever more demanding public, a most critical academia, and the challenge of moving 12,000 objects to the center of Berlin.