The Humboldt Forum opened on July 20, 2021 after the start had been postponed several times due to construction delays. “Open at last” was what it said on the website of the new complex with the reconstructed palace facade, about which there was just as much trouble before as there was about the restitution of colonial exhibits.
Now Berlin’s prestige object is taking stock for the first time: in the first 365 days, around 1.5 million guests were counted, including 820,000 visitors to the exhibition. Eight exhibitions were shown during this time. These include the collection presentations of the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art, the exhibition Berlin Global, Schlosskeller and Skulpturensaal; or the show “Songlines: Seven Sisters Create Australia”, which runs until the end of October.
According to this, 680,000 visitors stayed exclusively in the freely accessible areas, for example in the foyer, in the Schlüterhof or on the roof of the museum building. According to the Humboldt Forum, the figure is based on an estimate; most of the open areas are accessible without a time slot or ticket. The Humboldt Forum wants to be a new, attractive urban space, a meeting place, not just a museum. The figures only give a limited indication of whether this has already been achieved.
General manager Hartmut Dorgerloh is satisfied: “We can look back on a very successful first year – especially in view of the restrictions caused by the pandemic and their worldwide effects,” says a message from the company.
It is difficult to use comparative figures because of the corona kink. With 820,000 exhibition visitors, the Humboldt Forum is about as well attended during the pandemic as the large Berlin museums were before the pandemic. The Neues Museum had 828,000 visitors in 2019, the Pergamonmusem 804,000. In 2021, due to the pandemic, only 200,000 people went to the Neues Museum. The offerings of the Humboldt Forum do well, but they cannot be compared completely, as they have significantly more space than the ones mentioned.
Read at Tagesspiegel Plus: Is the baroque palace facade partly financed by rights?
The Museum Island had a total of around 3.1 million visitors in 2019, only 740,000 in 2020 and managed around 830,000 in 2021. The Humboldt Forum, including its freely accessible courtyards and foyers, attracted significantly more guests in the first 365 days than the entire island in 2021 .
The Humboldt Forum does not come off badly at all when compared to foreign institutions. The Vatican Museum in Rome and the British Museum in London had 1.6 and 1.3 million guests respectively in 2021. The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, as the frontrunner among American museums, had around 2 million people in 2021 due to the corona. The Louvre, the constant global leader in terms of visitor numbers, had 2.8 million guests in 2021 due to the corona, but also has more exhibition space than the Humboldt Forum.
The next 100 days will be exciting. To see where things could be headed: in 2019, the Vatican Museum and the London museums each had around 6 million visitors, while the Metropolitan Museum had 6.7 million. The Louvre at 9.6 million.
The first 100 days in the Humboldt Forum were free. A statement as to whether the free entry encourages more visitors cannot be derived from the figures. On September 17, the last part of the building, the east wing, will also open – with a 24-hour program of celebrations.