It’s been anything but smooth sailing for Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, the €600-million ($673.3 million) museum that’s been under construction since 2013. It was officially announced last week that the museum’s opening date has been pushed back from 2019 to 2020. A new timeline for the building’s construction will be presented to the museum’s foundation later this month.
The construction problems have also been the cause for the postponement of a major show centered around ivory artifacts. The exhibition was going to include items on loan from institutions including the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. But delays with the Humboldt Forum’s climate control system (ivory is particularly susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity) caused the institutions to renege their offers to loan the works.
The Humboldt Forum is on the site of the former East German Parliament, known as the Palast der Republik, which closed in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall; its demolition began in 2006. The museum is due to open within a facsimile of the Berlin Palace, also known as the Berliner Schloss, which was badly damaged in World War II and demolished in 1950. Critics have pointed to the decision to rebuild the Berliner Schloss as a move in the direction of sanitizing Germany’s turbulent 20th century history.
The museum has also been subject to accusations regarding the provenance of objects in its collection, including several hundred Benin Bronzes. Critics have argued that the institution is on the wrong side of the current debates about the repatriation of artifacts seized under colonialism.