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In A Copy Of A Palace Berlin Unveils An Ambitious Cultural Forum

On Tuesday, one of Germany’s most ambitious cultural projects, a partial reconstruction of a Prussian castle that was razed by East Germany’s communist regime after World War II, will open to the public, with collections of African Asian and other non-European art.
The Humboldt Forum was created by Italian architect Franco Stella and is located in the middle of Berlin, near to the neoclassical Museum Island complex. It has three replica facades, one modern front, and a modern interior.
680 million euros ($802 million) was spent on it.
The project is the outcome of a German parliament vote in 2002 to reconstruct the 18th-century palace.
The original was dismantled in 1950 and rebuilt by the East German parliament building, which has since been demolished.
It will comprise displays from the Ethnological Museum and the Museum for Asian Art, two of Berlin’s state museums.
It will open with six exhibitions, including one on Berlin’s history, one on ivory, and one on Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, the explorer and educator whose name the forum carries.
“The shows are really diverse, coming from a wide range of institutions,” director Hartmut Dorgerloh told German news agency dpa.
“I believe it is very nice because it illustrates the breadth of issues as well as the numerous manner in which exhibitions can be done nowadays,” says the curator.
The Palace of the Republic, a 1970s East German parliament building that also contained restaurants and a bowling alley but was considered an eyesore by most westerners, was remembered fondly by some former East Berliners.
The Berlin Museums Authority aims to be able to display some of the items known as the Benin Bronzes at the Humboldt Forum, which were plundered from the Kingdom of Benin’s royal palace by a British colonial expedition in 1897.
The Ethnological Museum houses one of the world’s greatest collections of historical relics from the kingdom, and Berlin is interested in discussing future exhibitions in Germany as part of the discussions to restore treasures to Nigeria.

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