Humboldt Forum
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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Construction

What is the overall timetable?
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2013 The foundation stone is laid.
2015 Topping out ceremony.
2018 The first exhibitions are installed.
2019 The Humboldt Forum opens its doors.

How much is the palace costing people?
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€ 595 million total cost, of which:
€ 483 million comes from the federal government,
€ 32 million from the city-state of Berlin,
€ 80 million in anticipated private donations for the reconstruction of the historical facades.

A further € 25.5 million in private donations is required for additional construction options (historical cupola, interior doorways, etc.).

Financing from the federal government and the city-state of Berlin has already been secured. Donations to cover the extra costs of the historical facades and additional construction options are being collected by the foundation Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, the friends’ association Berliner Schloss e.V. and other non-profit organizations.

How are the costs and construction time being monitored?
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The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning is responsible for construction management, using a modern cost control system. Risk management measures have also been implemented, guaranteeing that the project will stay within its budget of € 595 million, as set in the II/2011 price index.

In its capacity as building contractor, the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss is regularly audited by accountants. It is bound by public procurement law and may be audited by the German Supreme Audit Institution. Architect Franco Stella is working hand in hand with planners and site managers who are highly experienced in major building projects. According to current prognoses, the estimated construction time is thought to be realistic.

Which parts of the palace are to be reconstructed and which will be modern?
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The architect’s plan is in line with the 2007 decision by the Bundestag stipulating that only three of the four outer facades, including the cupola, are to be reconstructed, as well as the three Baroque facades of the Schlüterhof. No guidelines were set for the historical transverse wing between the Schlüterhof and Eosanderhof courtyards and the Renaissance wing to the east. This is where the Belvedere will be erected as a freestanding and consciously modern structure.

Old and new in the same building? Is that going to work?
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Yes, in fact that’s the whole idea. Viewed from the outside you should be able to tell that the palace is both a reconstruction and a new building. The aim in rebuilding the Baroque facades is not to cover up German history – of which the palace’s demolition in 1950 is also a part – for it is precisely these tensions that contribute to the project’s allure. It is rather that old and new will act as a bridge between the past and the present.

Will the cupola be reconstructed?
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Yes, the cupola is to be completely reconstructed in its original form, provided that approximately € 15 million is raised in additional donations. The current construction budget already includes the bare shell of the cupola but not its historical ornamentation.

Where will the decorative elements come from?
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Im September 2011 wurde die Schlossbauhütte der Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss in Berlin Spandau eröffnet. Hier und in externen Werkstätten arbeiten derzeit ein halbes Dutzend Steinbildhauer, Steinmetze und Modellbauer an dem barocken Fassadenschmuck für das Berliner Schloss. Sie gestalten die Schmuckelemente: von den Kolossalfiguren bis zu den Blättergirlanden. Auch die erhaltenen Originalteile des 1950 gesprengten Berliner Schlosses werden in der Schlossbauhütte eingelagert.

How many decorative elements are there?
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Around 300 models need to be completed for the sculptural work: eight sculptures, thirteen column capitals, eight ram’s heads, thirty-two eagles, six bucrania, seventy-one metopes, six heraldic shields and 144 shells, reliefs, consoles, cartouches and other elements.

What will happen to the surviving fragments of the palace?
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The grand entrance now located on the facade of the former State Council Building (now used by the ESMT) will remain in situ and is to be “copied”. Other larger surviving ornamental fragments of the historical facade are to be reinstalled. The original fragments and figures, which have hitherto been stored in various locations, are to be collected and inspected in the Palace Workshop.

What will happen to the surviving fragments of the palace?
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The cellar ruins to the south of the Eosander entrance are to be opened up to visitors of the Palace Cellar, an “archaeological window” comprising a surface area of 1,800 square metres. A tour around the cellar will also include the historical guardroom of the commander of the palace guard as well as the Baroque vaults. The blast holes under the Eosander entrance dating from the palace’s demolition in 1950 will also be on display. Finally, visitors will be able to view the vaulted cellars of the Dominican monastery in the city of Cölln, originally built around 1300 and demolished in the early 1800s.

Will the historical interior rooms also be reconstructed?
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The historical interiors will not be reconstructed, but the future reconstruction of individual rooms such as the Rittersaal, the Elisabethsaal or the Schweizersaal remains feasible.

What type of foundations will secure the structure in the unstable ground?
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The bottom slab where the East German Palace of the Republic used to stand has remained in the ground, serving as the new palace’s foundations. In the area around the Palace Cellar (the “archaeological window”), concrete piles have been drilled as deep as forty-two metres into the earth. The subsoil in the northwest corner has been replaced and compacted to facilitate the construction of the planned metro tunnel.

Is the metro tunnel causing any problems?
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No, the tunnel passing underneath Schlossplatz, the square where the palace is located, is no problem at all. The construction of the palace and its foundations is being closely coordinated with the BVG, Berlin's public-transport company. The subsoil in this section of the site has been compacted in order to render it load bearing. This will ensure that no load transfer problems occur in connection with the palace.

Is there any guarantee that all of the Baroque elements that are to be reconstructed and the classical palace cupola really will be completed?
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No, there is no such guarantee. We are convinced, however, that people’s readiness to donate the missing funds will increase as the construction of the palace progresses. The donations raised so far are enough to pay for the facade – with the exception of a few sculptural elements that can be added later (such as the sculptures above the main entrances). Enough money has also been donated to ensure the palace cupola can essentially be constructed, but funding for the lanterns to be installed on the palace cupola is still lacking.

Will the exposed masonry on the facade remain visible?
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No, the historical facade will be plastered in a historically authentic shade of pale yellow.

What type of wood has been chosen for the window frames?
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The window frames in the Humboldt Forum are made of oak.

Will private donors be acknowledged?
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Depending on the amount donated, donors will be acknowledged at a prominent spot inside the Berlin Palace. Elements of the decorative facade can also be symbolically purchased through the friends’ association Berliner Schloss e.V., giving donors the chance to immortalize themselves in the very fabric of the palace.

Humboldt Forum

What is the Humboldt Forum?
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Along with the Humboldt Forum, a whole new cultural district is being created in the very heart of the city. It represents an approach that brings together diverse cultures and perspectives and seeks new insights into topical issues such as migration, religion and globalization. Thanks to its programme of exhibitions and events, the Humboldt Forum is already offering visitors an opportunity to experience the world in its entirety. What awaits them is a series of exhibitions, films and discussions with specialists and commentators on science, art, religion, politics and business exploring the day’s burning questions. Whether in the Humboldt Box or in rather more unexpected locations in Berlin: the Humboldt Forum creates spaces for encounters and exchange.

Why is the new venue called the Humboldt Forum?
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The project takes its name from the two Humboldt brothers. As a widely travelled “world citizen” and researcher, Alexander represents the huge diversity of the non-European collections which will be housed in the palace as part of the Humboldt Forum. Wilhelm, the universal scholar, represents the idea of uniting various educational institutions and scientific theories under one roof. He is considered the founder of the humanist educational ideal in Germany. Transferring the Ethnologisches Museum’s Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv as well as the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s sound archive to the palace also underlines the key role that linguistics will play in the Humboldt Forum.

How many people will be employed at the Humboldt Forum?
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In the future approximately 530 people will work at the Humboldt Forum.

Who will have use of the rooms?
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From 2019 onward, the Humboldt Forum will house the permanent exhibitions of the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), the exhibition about Berlin (Kulturprojekte Berlin and Stadtmuseum Berlin) and the Humboldt Lab (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). The ground floor will become a cultural meeting point, featuring large venues for events, public areas, and a selection of establishments offering food and drink.

Will the new palace honour the location’s turbulent history?
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The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss is developing a permanent exhibition about the history of the location. Housed in the Site Museum, the exhibition will explore the entire history of Schlossplatz, the square where the palace is located.

Which parts of the palace will people be able to visit without paying an entrance fee?
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As it stands, all of the public areas in the basement and on the ground floor (the Site Museum, foyer, courtyards, restaurants and commercial areas), the entire stairway area from the ground floor to the third floor, and the top floor with its rooftop restaurant will be accessible without paying an entrance free. Moreover, the founding directors would like to see more areas being opened to the public free of charge in the future.

How many people are the individual venues designed to accommodate?
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The auditorium can accommodate 500 visitors, while the multipurpose hall is suitable for 400.

Will the Schlüterhof courtyard be open at night?
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The Schlüterhof courtyard as well as the adjacent passageway will be open to the public around the clock.

Will people still be able to stroll along the River Spree?
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Yes, the banks of the Spree will remain publicly accessible. This is one reason why the east wing of the Berlin Palace will have a modern design rather than following the layout of the Renaissance structure, which used to extend all the way to the river.