Anniversary year 2019

Humboldt commemorations around the world

Globetrotter and scientist Alexander von Humboldt was born 250 years ago. To mark the anniversary, numerous ceremonies, conferences, lectures, projects and other activities will be taking place throughout 2019. Most of these will be held in Germany, but the countries of South America visited by Humboldt also have events planned, most notably Peru.

In Berlin, no fewer than 13 institutions have joined forces to celebrate the Humboldt Year, including the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Humboldt Forum and the Deutsches Historisches Museum. The calendar of events put together by the ‘Humboldt Partners’ offers a comprehensive and varied programme. For example, the New Year reception (17th January) organised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the book launch for Die Abenteuer des Alexander von Humboldt (The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt) by biographer Andrea Wulf on 28th March. In April, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and climate researcher Paulo Artaxo will headline a series of lectures at the Humboldt University in Berlin. And even German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears on the programme – she will be delivering a tribute on 26th June. It is clear that a great deal of planning has already gone into this anniversary commemoration, ranging from scientific conferences and exhibitions to high-level state occasions. The sheer diversity of what is on offer reflects the varied life and career of Humboldt himself.

 

Humboldt musical in Lima

The festivities to mark 250 years since the birth of Alexander von Humboldt are by no means restricted to Germany. Numerous events in honour of Humboldt Year have been scheduled in the countries once visited by the well-travelled globetrotter, for example in Peru where he spent several months in 1802.

An eleven-strong team at the Alexander von Humboldt German School in Lima started planning for their Humboldt-Woche (Humboldt Week) as early as 2017. This will include a ‘Humboldt Campus’ where visitors can enter into dialogue with experts on the great man. There will also be a series of project days during which students from Lima and Sao Paulo will present a simulation of Humboldt’s travels. The week in Lima will be rounded off with a Humboldt-themed musical featuring the school’s most talented performers. 

An entire city carried away by the spirit of the occasion

“We look forward to working together with our students as well as our guests from South America, Germany and around the world,” says school principal Eberhard Heinzel, who is supported by fellow teacher and project manager Markus Krümpel. “We will be taking a look at the life and work of Alexander von Humboldt and his relevance today: what does Alexander von Humboldt have to say to us about the many different challenges that the world has to face up to, such climate change, globalisation and mass migration?” The two of them also intend to involve other local and regional schools which would otherwise have no point of contact with Germany. “The aim is to get others infected with the Humboldt bug,” Markus Krümpel affirms with a grin. “The school is preparing to spread the message and hoping that it will turn into an epidemic. The infection has already taken hold of all those involved in the preparations.”

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