The museums and exhibitions in the Humboldt Forum in the reconstructed Berlin Schloss will open for visits in phases from December 2020.
The Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berlin Palace will finally open to visitors on 17 December 2020. However, museums and exhibitions will open in phases with the Ethnological and Asian Art museums only opening from September 2021. The first exhibitions to open will cover the history of the Humboldt Forum and Berliner Schloss site and the Brothers Humboldt after who the complex is named. The Berlin Global and After Nature exhibitions will follow in January 2021.
Time-slot ticket reservations will be essential — only available from December 2020.
NOTE: The Humboldt Forum opened in a virtual event and the building remained closed during the first months of 2021.
Note: most of the Berlin state museums opened by mid-April 2021 including on Museum Island (Altes Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamonmuseu, and Das Panorama), at Kulturforum (Gemäldegalerie and most temporary exhibitions in other venues), the Hamburger Bahnhof, and Museum Europäischer Kulturen) but not the Humboldt Forum. Time-slot reservations are essential for all museums during 2021 – buy tickets and make reservations online at Tiqets, GetYourGuide, or at SMB. Tickets sell out fast, especially on weekends — check the different suppliers, as some may still have timeslots available when SMB has sold out. Many multiple-museum tickets and passes will not be on sale or accepted until later in 2021.
Opening hours are generally Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 on Museum Island, other museums generally open at 11:00 on weekends. Currently, the top museums are not open on Thursday evenings or on Mondays.
See Update for Opening Hours of the Berlin State Museums for the latest information. Time-slot ticket reservations are essential for ALL museums.
Humboldt Forum in Berlin
The Humboldt Forum is the name given to the reconstructed Berlin Palace on Museum Island in the heart of Berlin. The building mostly resembles the Baroque Schloss of the Hohenzollerns but the interior is completely modern.
Several institutions will share the Humboldt Forum but the Ethnological Museum, Asian Art Museum, the Humboldt University, and the Stadtmuseum Berlin (local history museum) have permanent exhibition spaces here.
Opening of Exhibitions in the Humboldt Forum in 2020 — 2021
The Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss will open in phases from 17 December 2020 — the complete building will only be in use by 2022.
The main exhibitions and museums openings were scheduled as follows but remained close until the building is allowed to accept visitors:
- Geschichte des Ortes / History of the Humboldt Forum Site— from 17 December 2020
- Die Brüder Humboldt / Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt — from 17 December 2020
- Nimm Platz! Eine Ausstellung für Kinder / Take a Seat! Exhibition for Children — 3 January to 24 October 2021
- Nach der Natur / After Nature in the Humboldt Laboratory — from 7 January 2021
- Berlin Global — from 16 January 2021
- Schrecklich schön. Elefant — Mensch — Elfenbein / Terribly beautiful. Elephant — Man — Ivory — from 13 May to 24 October 2021
- Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst — from September 2021 (fully from 2022)
An extensive cultural program including discussions, lectures, and performances will enhance the larger exhibitions and events.
Geschichte des Ortes / History of the Humboldt Forum Site
— from 17 December 2020
Opening the rebuilt Berliner Schloss with an exhibition on the history of the site clearly indicates that this building is more than just the latest building project in Berlin. This relatively small permanent exhibition is spread through the building and includes a few original decorative elements from the original palace. The interior of the rebuilt palace is modern and thus far none of the palace’s show rooms have been reconstructed.
Berlin (originally Cölln) was long a backwater near the edge of the Holy Roman Empire. It only came to some prominence when he Hohenzollern family took control of the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1415 and decided to build a palace in Berlin, despite violent opposition from the locals.
The palace expanded with the growing importance of Brandenburg (and later Prussia). The Renaissance palace was converted into a Baroque complex early in the 18th century. It was enlarger further with the addition of a cupola and chapel in the mid-19th century.
After the end of the monarchy in 1918, it was decided to use the building for cultural and academic institutions. The Schloss survived most of the Second World War but was severely damaged in February 1945.
In 1951, the German Democratic Republic decided to demolish the palace but only got around to replace it with the Palace of the Republic in the 1970s. This “people’s palace” famously housed the East German parliament but also restaurants, a disco, and a bowling alley. This palace was pulled down after the re-unification of Germany and in 2008 it was finally decided to rebuilt the Baroque Schloss facade but with a modern interior to be used for cultural and academic purposes.
Die Brüder Humboldt / Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt
— from 17 December 2020
The Humboldt Forum (like Berlin’s most prestigious university) is named after the brothers Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt:
- Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) was a Prussian philosopher, educationalist, diplomat and linguist, who introduced the concept of holistic education that combined arts and sciences together to promote understanding and cultural knowledge.
- Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a polymath –- a geographer, naturalist and scientific explorer of the Americas, and a proponent of Romantic philosophy and science.
Taking inspiration from the brothers, the Humboldt Forum brings together the sciences, the arts and education, and promotes dialogue between experts and the public on these subjects and more, recognising that forging links between disciplines leads to the holistic knowledge that is needed to tackle the world’s urgent problems.
Nimm Platz! Eine Ausstellung für Kinder
— 3 January to 24 October 2021
The exhibition Take a Seat! is aimed at children from three to ten years. It explains the role of seating in society and different cultures, as a gesture of welcoming, conventions, and rank.
Humboldt Labor / Humboldt Laboratory
— from 7 January 2021
The Humboldt Labor / Humboldt Laboratory is a special exhibition and education space created by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Humboldt University of Berlin) to explain pressing issues or contemporary responses through natural sciences.
The first project Nach der Natur / After Nature will run for around three years. It explains the history and development of science with themes such as climate change, globalisation, consumption, sustainability, loss of biodiversity and inequality.
— from 16 January 2021
Berlin Global will be the first large exhibition to open in the Humboldt Forum. It is a co-production by Kulturprojekte Berlin (Cultural Projects Berlin) and the Stadtmuseum Berlin (City Museum Berlin) with a state of the art exhibition with many interactive experiences.
It reveals the essence of Berlin through seven themes: Revolution, Free Space, Boundaries, Entertainment, War, Fashion and Interconnection. Expect it to be big, bold, and beautiful.
Schrecklich schön. Elefant — Mensch — Elfenbein
— 13 May to 24 October 2021
The first special temporary exhibition of the Ethnological Museum and Asian Art Museum (in cooperation with the Natural History Museum Berlin) covers the rather controversial topic ivory. The name schrecklich schön translates to awfully or terribly beautiful.
Humans made their first ivory art works at least 40,000 years ago but today ivory is often more associated with violence, colonization and injustice. The exhibition will include top quality carved ivory while at the same time covering the terrible toll the collection of ivory has on elephant and human populations.
Ethnological Museum and Asian Art Museum
— from September 2021
The absolute cultural highlights in the Humboldt Forum are the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) that are part of the Staatliche Museen Berlin (Berlin State Museums). These two museum are among the largest and most significant museums of their kinds in the world. The museums will party open in September 2021 with the museums likely to be fully open only by early 2022.
The Ethnological Museum (founded in 1873) and the Asian Art Museum (founded in 1906) both trace their origins back to the Brandenburg-Prussian Cabinet of Curiosities in the Berlin Palace. Both museums spent most of the second half of the twentieth century in Dahlem in far western Berlin but now returned to the Berliner Schloss.
The first parts of the museums to open in September 2021 in the west wing include the famous boats and houses from Oceania, buddhist caves from the silk road, art from Japan including a tea house, and part of the Africa collection.
The second parts of the museums in the east wing are likely to only open early 2022 and include items from Latin America and particularly the Amazon region, Khmer art, and the diversity of Islam. (Many historic Islamic art is exhibited in the Pergamon Museum.)
In addition to the large permanent exhibitions, frequent temporary exhibitions and an extensive related events programs are planned.
Visitors Information for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin
The Humboldt Forum with exhibitions will be open on the following dates — hours not yet confirmed:
The intention is to open the Humboldt Forum from Wednesday to Sunday, closed on Tuesdays but the final hours, or changes due to special hygiene measures have not been confirmed yet.
Tickets for the Humboldt Forum
Ticket prices and possible combination with other Museum Island museums have not been set yet. Tickets will only be available once the museums and exhibitions are opened. Time-slot reservations will be essential.
Admission to the palace itself is free — ticket prices for the museums and exhibitions, if applicable, have not been confirmed yet.
Location of the Humboldt Forum
The Humboldt Forum is on the southern half of Berlin’s famous Museum Island. Bus stop Lustgarten (bus 100, 245) is directly in front of the palace. The closest S-Bahn and U-Bahn statins are Alexanderplatz, although the new Museum Island U-Bahn station is due to open during 2021.
More on the Berlin State Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Note: Most museums on Museum Island reopened on 16 March 2021. Plans to reopen other Berlin State Museums from 1 April 2021 have been postponed. Time-slot reservations are essential for ALL museums. Tickets are available from Tiqets and GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — no passes or multi-museum tickets are currently available. Ticket reservations are only available around two weeks in advance.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museum and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museum What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- New Opening Hours of Berlin State Museum (Spring 2021).
- Regular opening hours not currently in use: Berlin State Museums Opening Hours (9 to 5 was always going to be too simple)
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from Tiqets or GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for ALL museums!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums in three days for €29 – a fantastic savings deal but not available while special measures are in place. Buy at Tiqets as an instant-use mobile ticket.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English)
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2021 — including the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldt Forum.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.
- The Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss opened (virtually) on 17 December 2020. Galleries and exhibitions will open in phases spread over a year. The Ethnological and Asian Art museum will only open towards the end of 2021 and the full museums only open by 2022.
- The Friederichswerdersche Kirche reopened in October 2020, as an exhibition space for sculptures of the Alte Nationalgalerie.
- The James Simon Gallery has opened as an additional entrance to the Pergamon and Neues Museum. Large special exhibitions are usually seen with the Neues Museum ticket (with surcharge likely).
- The Neue Nationalgalerie with twentieth-century art (up to 1970) is due to reopen in summer 2021.
More Museums Reviews and Museum Specific Information: