Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik

Zentralinstitut der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Developing collections at the Humboldt-Universität

The Helmholtz Centre for Cultural Techniques links teaching, research, and exhibitions on the university’s collections to their indexing and to their further development as museum assets. An overarching interest frames this undertaking: an interest in collecting as a cultural technique, in the development of material cultures in the sciences, the associated cultures of memory and identity politics, and the relationship between material and digital architectures of knowledge.

The Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin has more than 40 collections, and their management is generally decentralised and led by the respective institutes. The Helmholtz Centre is responsible for coordinating and supporting their activities.

An overview of the diverse collections held by the Humboldt-Universität is provided on the web portal of the active collections, managed by the Helmholtz Centre. This also provides the framework for the central, cross-collection indexing project Cabinets of Knowledge, which was launched at the Helmholtz Centre in 1999 and has been developed since then. It indexes the Humboldt-Universität’s historical and current collections.

The collection holdings of the Humboldt-Universität are exceptionally heterogeneous: they come from different disciplines, from archaeology to zoology, were initiated for teaching or research purposes, and include different kinds of objects, from models to preserved specimens, plants and documentary material, to archaeological finds and photographs. As traces of the different phases in the university’s development, they bear witness to its achievements, but also to the sidelines and gulfs in scientific activity and research.