On the occasion of the Humboldt Year, me Collectors Room Berlin has developed a scavenger hunt through the city, which guides participants to important places in Humboldt’s life. There will also be workshops for children and youth as well as a new video guide with Thomas Olbricht (collector) and Georg Laue (curator), guiding visitors through the Wunderkammer, which counts the Humboldt Cup and Humboldt-related stamps among its holdings.
A scientist, anthropologist and historian, Alexander von Humboldt (14 Sep 1769 – 6 May 1859) made a great impression on the world even during his lifetime. He was born in Berlin, travelled widely and, in 1827, settled permanently in his home city. While he continued to embark on explorations of the new and unknown, he was nevertheless firmly rooted in the capital city; after all, ‘Alexander von Humboldt belongs in Berlin (…). But he also belongs to the world.’
Participants will have the opportunity explore – on foot or by bicycle – original locations that were central in the life and work of Alexander von Humboldt. In the process, they will learn details from stories told about him and trace his everyday paths. The scavenger hunt is free of charge and you can download the scavenger hunt here. You may also pick it up at the counter at me Collectors Room Berlin.
The final destination in the hunt is the Wunderkammer Olbricht. This is where you will find not only stamps, which show Alexander von Humboldt or animals and plants he discovered, but also the Humboldt Cup, which was commissioned in the mid-seventeenth century by Johann Moritz of Nassau, Governor-General of Dutch Brazil; it came into the possession of Alexander von Humboldt in 1795 (see figure).
‘Cabinets of art and curiosities’ first arose during the late Renaissance and Baroque periods. They were private exhibition spaces, where precious artworks (artificialia), rare phenomena of nature (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), objects from strange worlds (exotica) and inexplicable items (mirabilia) were preserved. Encyclopaedic in nature, ‘Cabinets of art and curiosities’ were designed as miniature depictions of the world that would illustrate the position of mankind in the universe. They were reflections of both the natural philosophy of the early modern period and the categories of knowledge underlying the worldview at the time.
The fact that this holistic understanding goes back this far and was taken up by researchers such as Humboldt, leading to the three pillars being developed further to read Researching, discovering, understanding, is a testimony to the living currency of the ‘cabinets of art and curiosities’.
Special for youth (aged 13 years)
Special for families
- English, German