250 years after his birth, what can we learn from Alexander von Humboldt?

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Prussian scientist Alexander von #Humboldt, prompting events in his honor across Berlin. We found out more about how Humboldt's legacy lives on and why he's important to study today.

Image by Jens Junge from Pixabay



Photo features one of von Humboldt’s “objects.” Hyalite on Chalcedony, from the Sierra de la Guadaloupe in the area of ​​Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico (Inv.-no .: 1985-0004, size 8.5 x 6 x 2.5 cm), with detailed label by Alexander von Humboldt in French. Photo (c): Hwa Ja Götz, Museum of Natural History Berlin.

By Anneliese Leithoff Christensen and Monika Müller-Kroll

This year sees the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt, prompting events celebrating his legacy across Berlin throughout 2019. A Prussian scientist made famous for his writings on the Americas, Humboldt valued interdisciplinary work and fought against a growing tide of racism and anti-Semitism.

We caught up with Dr. Ottmar Ette, professor at the University of Potsdam, who has studied Humboldt’s work for more than 35 years. Ette believes that Humboldt’s legacy is one that should be taken note of in the 21st century. “For his 250th birthday, I feel that he’s back again on stage. [He was] a thinker in the sense of a democratic, open-minded, anti-colonial…truly a non-racist,” Ette says.

Exhibitions, readings, lectures and more are being hosted around Berlin throughout the year, with a celebration on Sept. 14 at the Humboldt Forum in honor of his birthday.  


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