The exhibitions at Forum Wissen
The largest area at Forum Wissen is dedicated to exhibiting, presenting and communicating. Each of the three different formats - Basic Exhibition, Collection Showcase and special exhibitions - achieve this in their own way.
Basic Exhibition: themes and objects
The largest space (1,200 m2) is taken up by the Basic Exhibition. The focus is on knowledge in the making with its various modern and historical manifestations and facets. How does scientific and scholarly knowledge arise? How is it created, disseminated and consolidated? Which players are involved - which people, things, configurations? Which historically changing basic conditions play a role? And what social function and significance is assigned to sciences and scholarship?
An exhibition dealing with these questions could never be a "permanent exhibition" since it is well known that the idea of a permanent status of knowledge is foreign to the world of science and scholarship. Rather, it is a world constantly marked by change and dynamics. These characteristics rather underline the stylistic approaches of the Basic Exhibition, which has been designed and set up from the outset in such a way as to allow new themes to be introduced, statements to be challenged or modified and omissions to be addressed and discussed. The theme and aspiration of the Basic Exhibition, namely to do justice to the knowledge creation process with all its diversity and dynamics, so far make Forum Wissen unique worldwide.
The objects in the Basic Exhibition are just as unique. They will be borrowed on a temporary basis from the university's more than 30 academic collections and some of them will be on public display for the first time. They exemplify how experts in the academic world strive for findings and knowledge and to highlight how such insights have been made plausible, disputed or disproven, now and in the past. It has often been the case that objects have served as "evidence" for preconceived assumptions and ideologies. They thus illustrate typical scientific and academic approaches. In this way, they testify to wrong paths and dead ends as well as to groundbreaking findings and to the different speeds at which scholarship moves. The objects from the academic collections are testimonies and bearers of multi-layered information about people, networks, structures and processes that create knowledge.
Since the Basic Exhibition is designed to be interdisciplinary, objects from all kinds of different subject contexts meet here, encouraging not only the recognition of subject boundaries but also overcoming them and developing original questions, ideas and associations. The curatorial principle here is to repeatedly start from what is apparently familiar or easily recognised, but then to frustrate such established notions through unexpected connections between things and topics. Thus - very much in keeping with Walter Benjamin - the visitors should leave the exhibition not only more learned but above all shrewder.
The Collection Showcase is a room of objects. Its main feature is a ceiling-high shelved glass display case. Shaped as a square, it creates an outer and an inner space. In each of the vertical segments of the vitrine, one of our university's collections is presented with selected items. As they walk around the display case, visitors are therefore allowed to discover the history of the university by browsing the history of its collections. Also conceivable, however, is a completely different order - something to challenge viewers, perhaps by an alphabetical arrangement of the artefacts. In that case, the items from the Algae Collection would be found next to the column of objects from the Anthropological Collection, followed by a column representing the Archaeological Collection.
Image and text information on the outer wall of the room provide an introduction to the range and individual characteristics of the Göttingen collections.
The Basic Exhibition and the Collection Showcase are flanked by special exhibitions. This may be for a particular occasion, to focus on an individual theme, to address interdisciplinary issues or to encourage people to grapple with current debates. Unlike the Basic Exhibition, which is always interdisciplinary, special exhibitions may focus on an individual discipline or a single collection. This means that the special exhibitions may occasionally display a large number of objects from our collections, and sometimes even none. The Centre for Collection Development is responsible for and curates all the special exhibitions. Depending on the topic, this is done in cooperation with partners from the university or from non-university institutions of the Göttingen Campus, with cultural institutions from the region or with other partners.