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On the trail of last journeys. Varied autumn programme for the exhibition un_endlich at the Humboldt Forum begins in September | until 26.11.2023

Editors’ Choice

Since April 2023, the Humboldt Forum has been showing the exhibition “un_endlich. Living with Death”, in the context of which various event and information formats are offered. From the life of snails at the side of the dead to the successful closing party as an alternative to a funeral: The consultation hours have established themselves as a successful format and will be continued. And: A new podcast tour leads through the permanent exhibitions of the Humboldt Forum on the basis of selected objects – relics, sacrificial blood bowls, coral skeletons – and tells of how people dealt with death and how they still do.

Fig. above: Katharina and Pram von Oheimb, Life in the Cemetery , © Marcus Rietzsch

From palliative doctors to biologists to organisers of funerals: In the series of events “Sprechstunde”, people from a wide range of professions who deal with death on a daily basis – this difficult, often taboo subject – have their say. Visitors to the exhibition have the unique opportunity to ask questions to people who deal with death professionally. Every Sunday, they can join the special exhibition un_endlich on its last journeys during the consultation hour. – Free admission, meeting point in the special exhibition.

Katharina and Pram von Oheimb, Life at the Cemetery
3 September 2023, 2 p.m., Special exhibition un_endlich

A cemetery is not only a place of the dead. It is also a place for animals, which find their refuge here – in view of the increasingly concreted-over and sealed world of the city. Life in the cemetery is more undisturbed than in the park, the living human being only makes a limited appearance here, even the dog keeps a low profile. Untidy corners, dead wood and lush meadows, walls and gravestones that serve as rock substitutes are inviting. Thus the biotope cemetery serves the various food chains and shows a surprisingly large variety of species. And in the middle of it all, the snail crawls and slithers. It is the snail that is the main subject of the research of the two biologists Katharina and Pram von Oheimb, who work as experts on molluscs at the Berlin Museum of Natural History. Up to 20 different snail species can be found in a Berlin cemetery. The subterranean blind snail, for example, invades decaying coffins and plunders the bones as a source of calcium. In their talk, the two researchers report on the coexistence of the different species, the symbiosis of the dead and the animals, and thus create a realistic picture of human decay.

On the occasion of the special exhibition un_endlich. Living with Death, the journalist and death counsellor Lydia Heller and the archaeologist Pablo Nina visit selected rooms and exhibits in the permanent exhibitions of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. And precisely those that tell something about how people dealt with death at different times, in different regions of the world. In conversation with academics, artists and activists, they explore questions such as: What did the sacrificial ritual mean to the Aztecs? How does the knowledge of our own mortality influence our lives? Or why is it difficult for us to take the extinction of species personally?

DEEDS NEWS - Auf den Spuren letzter Reisen Museum für Naturkunde (MfN) Berlin Foto Matthias Heyde
© Museum für Naturkunde (MfN) Berlin Foto: Matthias Heyde

Episode 1: Ancestors, Goddesses and Heroes – Living with Death in Different Cultures
Henriette Lavaulx-Vrécourt (ethnologist), Maria Ellendorff (cultural anthropologist), David Blankenstein (art historian) and Lydia Heller (journalist), discuss the topic using the example of reliquaries on display in the Ancestors, Goddesses and Heroes exhibition area: the Chinese figure Ushnishavijaya, the reliquary Byeri from Cameroon, the Tibetan votive stupa and the Mahamajuri from China.

Episode 2: Quauhxicalli – an Aztec sacrificial blood bowl
How did the Aztecs embed death in life? And how did they think about death and life around 500/600 years ago? Claudine Hartau (Ancient American Studies), Ute Schüren (Ancient American Studies) and Lydia Heller (journalist) will talk about this using the example of a special exhibit, the Quauhxicalli (sacrificial blood or eagle bowl) from the Mesoamerican collection of the Ethnological Museum Berlin.

Episode 3: Coral – or how do we deal with species extinction?
Although species extinction affects us all, we find it difficult to deal with this kind of dying and death more closely. Why is that? And does it have consequences for how we deal with species extinction? Elisabetta Corrà (environmental journalist and activist), Carsten Lüter (evolutionary biologist and curator at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) and Lydia Heller (journalist) meet to explore these questions in the exhibition After Nature at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
Link to the podcast series: humboldtforum.org/death-matters

DEEDS NEWS - Auf den Spuren letzter Reisen - Katharina Kepplinger
 © Katharina Kepplinger


The podcasts are also offered in an abridged form as a media guide for a one-hour tour of the Humboldt Forum. The tour takes visitors to relic containers, a sacrificial blood bowl and coral skeletons in the permanent exhibitions. They tell about how people dealt with death and how they still do. Lydia Heller, journalist and death counsellor, and her guests accompany the participants through this mini-podcast series. Link to the media guide: guide.humboldtforum.org/en/explore/tours/31


1 – 5 November 2023

The Mexican Festival of the Dead is a colourful folk festival where, according to ancient Mexican beliefs, the living and the dead meet again to celebrate with each other – with music, dance and delicious food. On the occasion of the exhibition un_endlich. Living with Death, the association Calaca e.V. invites you to the Fiesta de Día des Muertos at the Humboldt Forum.


Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss
10178 Berlin


Exhibition: until 26.11.2023
Wed – Mon 10:30-18:30


12 / 6 Euro

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