Berlin′s Humboldt Forum welcomes its first large exhibit | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.05.2018
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Berlin's Humboldt Forum welcomes its first large exhibit

A 120-year-old boat from the South Sea that's twice the size of a killer whale has made its way across Berlin to its new home in the Humboldt Forum. It represents "a milestone" for the new museum.

Large crate balancing among scaffolding

Hoisting the boat to the first floor proved a real balancing act

An impressive wooden boat has made its way through the streets of Berlin under the cover of night. The 120-year-old boat, bought in 1905 on Luf Island in the Bismarck archipelago (now Papua-New Guinea) has long been a part of the collection of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Its exhibits are progressively being transferred to their new home, the Humboldt Forum, due to open in 2019.

Transporting such a large object — the boat built for the South Seas is 16 meters (52.5 feet) long and has a mast-height of 10 meters — into the first floor of a museum is no easy task. Added to the difficulty is the uniqueness of the fixture: This boat is said to be one-of-a-kind.

The unusual boat is one of the highlights of the museum's collection; great care had to be taken to ensure it was not damaged in transit. It could not be disassembled for transport between the museums either.

A logistical challenge

That posed a challenge for the construction specialists assigned to renovate the Humboldt Forum. They needed to get the boat through the doors before the reconstruction of the former Berlin Palace is completed. The boat will remain in its crate in a climate-controlled area as construction continues. 

Wooden crate entering construction site of Humboldt-Forum

The wooden crate entering the future Humboldt Forum museum

On hand at the Humboldt Forum to receive the unique boat were Germany's Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters, who gave the go-ahead for the transfer to begin. "We're in. We've arrived," said the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger.

The transfer was considered a "milestone" for the museum, which is set to begin moving in parts of its 1,000-piece collection, even as renovations are ongoing.

ct/eg (with dpa)

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