Over the past decade, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin has developed into an integrated research museum with collection-based leading-edge research, a globally unique research-led collection and innovative science-based knowledge transfer. This represents a strong development in the science and museum landscape of the Berlin metropolitan region and Germany with international appeal.
The museum attracts around 750,000 visitors a year from all over the world, of all ages and from a most diverse range of cultural and educational origins. This accounts for it being not only the museum with the most visitors in Berlin and the most visited natural history museum in Germany, but also a place that addresses a unique spectrum of visitor groups.
Research is conducted in various disciplines on the development of the earth and life. People are fascinated by nature and join in the debate about the future of the planet with a variety of formats and events. The museum also offers political representatives science-based information on the state and development of biological diversity and on strategies for sustainable development.
In terms of content, it has thus already succeeded in creating a highly modern natural history museum that is now setting out to become a role model for the natural history museum of the 21st century. This means optimally housing the collection, making it digitally accessible and opening up, i.e. providing authentic insights into the museum's functions, as well as providing opportunities for society to participate.
Future plan: Building, digitalisation, knowledge transfer
This is where the museum's future plan, made possible by grants from the federal and state governments, comes into play. With the concept for the "Future Plan - Conceptual and Structural Development Perspectives for the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin", the museum management presented an agenda in 2018 that outlines measures with which the museum can fulfil its responsibility as a place of information, reflection and dialogue with society. With the future plan, the museum buildings will not be conserved, but developed into the future while at the same time being appreciated and respected as a listed ensemble.
The key elements of this plan for the future are:
- the structural and infrastructural upgrading with the addition of new buildings to the available space
- the digitization and development of the collection
- knowledge transfer
These elements are to comprise integral, integrative measures that will be developed and implemented over the next few years.
The transfer of knowledge includes the development of a multifaceted science communication and an attractive, inclusive and barrier-free visitor infrastructure. To this end, exhibition formats and content will be further developed in such a way that both the scientific collections and the research activities of the museum are made accessible to the general public. In expanding the visitor-accessible areas, the development of the infrastructure is also an essential aspect in order to create a positive visitor experience for the expected visitor numbers of over one million per year.
The structural and infrastructural upgrading entails a research infrastructure at the leading edge of technology and research. The digitisation of the collection requires the basic development of the collection of 30 million objects and the creation of a future-oriented collection infrastructure. Modern workplaces, both structurally and technically in the office and laboratory areas, are the basis for research work at a high level and ensure international attractiveness as well as the expansion of worldwide university and non-university cooperation and partnerships.
Adlershof: innovation centre, conservation research, development factory
In order to implement all the projects of the Future Plan, a second location will be additionally established in Adlershof: for excellent science and collection development, with a modern collection infrastructure, laboratories for collection care and collection-related science, (semi-)automated digitisation and development lines, as well as equipment for imaging processes. The methods, techniques and products developed will also be offered as a service to diverse user groups in the future. The availability of objects, digitised data and the associated knowledge will become inspiration and source material for co-production and open innovation, which will be particularly feasible at the Adlershof location due to the spatial proximity to high-tech companies and start-ups.
The location will be a collection research centre for natural history collections as well as a development centre for technologies in conservation research, collection processing, conservation-restoration processing and modern collection use. Digital collection development and conservation processing will also be offered commercially as a service for valuable natural history and cultural history collection objects in need of restoration. This will also be a marker for national and international cooperation.