About us (HZK)

The Hermann von Helmholtz Centre for Cultural Techniques (HZK) is a central institute of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU). Its interdisciplinary orientation brings together project-based research, and it is dedicated to investigating the history and design of cultural techniques as cultural practices for creating, transferring and processing knowledge.
The HZK develops formats for using infrastructure in exhibitions, collections and interdisciplinary research and teaching. It sees scientific collections, architectures of knowledge and forms of creativity as cultural techniques applied in interdisciplinary knowledge, which it seeks to reflect and open up to transdisciplinary collaborations.

Research priority areas
The priority areas for interdisciplinary research and teaching at the HZK cover questions in the following fields: »Image & Action«, »Form Processes & Modelling«, »Active Matter«, »Architectures of Knowledge« and »Collecting & Exhibiting«.

Humboldt Laboratory
A new cultural centre is being created in the historic heart of Berlin, a centre dedicated to international exchanges of knowledge and dialogues with the cultures of the world: the Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berlin Palace. Here the HZK is opening up a venue for the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin where the latest perspectives in science and research on pressing social questions can be presented and discussed: the Humboldt Laboratory.

The Tieranatomisches Theater
The HZK is developing the historical venue of the Tieranatomisches Theater (TA T) as a public cultural institution with the character of a laboratory. Its central role is to experimentally develop exhibition and event formats. It aims to put innovative exhibition-making practices to the test and to enable diverse forms of critical access to material knowledge cultures and scientific collections. To this end, the natural sciences and the humanities enter into an exchange with the creative/design disciplines.
Expertise in exhibition-making is consolidated, shared and made public in the TA T. This includes interdisciplinary, intercultural and gender-conscious methods and positions.
The projects that emerge as a result open up opportunities for museum work and provide research and teaching with points of contact with the public.
The Tieranatomisches Theater provides the Humboldt-Universität collections with an object laboratory for applied collections research.

The Humboldt-Universität has more than 40 collections that have grown over the course of its history and are used as research and teaching infrastructures. Their management is decentralised and led by the respective institutes. The HZK coordinates the development of the collections and works on pan-collection indexing projects and courses as well as research and exhibition projects. It is especially interested in the development of material cultures in the sciences, the associated cultures of memory and identity politics, and the relationship between material and digital knowledge architectures.

The Helmholtz Lectures
The »Helmholtz Lectures« series at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin follows the model provided by Hermann von Helmholtz as a scientist and communicator of science. Two or three lectures are given per semester by outstanding figures on topics of cross-disciplinary relevance.