The path to the Humboldt-Forum
Lying at the historical heart of Berlin, Schlossplatz is a place that resonates with political and cultural importance. Although it now stands empty, it was originally home to the Hohenzollern palace, or Stadtschloss. The palace was demolished in 1950 by the East German government and replaced with the Palast der Republik. This building was dismantled in 2008. Schlossplatz, the city square that has come to symbolize reunified Germany, is now about to be given a new face with the Humboldt-Forum.
The first significant step towards the Humboldt-Forum was taken in 2002 when the then President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), Professor Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, put forward a concept for the future use of Schlossplatz. His plan was approved by the international expert committee „Historische Mitte Berlin”. In July 2002 the German parliament voted to give the plan the status of a binding set of guidelines for all further steps relating to the project. The concept envisages the presentation of the non-European collections of the National Museums in Berlin, the scientific collections of the Humboldt University and select holdings of the Central and Regional Library Berlin in a new building with the same cubic capacity as the Berlin Schloss.
July 2002 saw the work group „Schlossareal” called into being, headed by the then Minister of State for Culture, Christina Weiss. The work group was given the task of analysing the recommendations put forward by the expert committee „Historische Mitte Berlin” as to their implementation, and to come up with a precise plan for the building’s use and financing. In their final report, issued on 30 September 2003, the work group announced a two-year moratorium on activities due to the general economic situation at the time.
The moratorium was used by the institutions involved to make advances in the planning process. A feasibility study for the site, conducted by the German government in August 2005, came to the conclusion that the plans to use the site for the Humboldt-Forum are entirely feasible. The government then voted in favour of dismantling of the Palast der Republik, which subsequently took place from 2006 to 2008.
The plan for the construction of the Humboldt-Forum, as presented by the then Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development, Wolfgang Tiefensee, was agreed to by the German Cabinet in July 2007. An international architectural competition was held based on the plan and in November 2008, the Italian architect Franco Stella was selected as the winner.
An exhibition, opened in July 2009 by the then German President Horst Köhler, entitled „Anders zur Welt kommen”, gave the public a foretaste of the ideas put forward by the principal users of the Humboldt-Forum. This exhibition was held in the Altes Museum, directly overlooking the site and unveiled to the public the plans as they stood at the time, devised by the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Humboldt University and the Central and Regional Library Berlin.
The Stiftung Berliner Schloss – Humboldtforum (Berlin Schloss/Humboldt-Forum Foundation) was established in 2009 as the formal commissioner of the construction work. Its task is to coordinate the construction project and the dialogue with the public. The foundation is also the organizing partner behind the Humboldt-Box