Natural history museums have always been places where artists were intensively involved in the study of nature. Alongside travelling researchers, artists have contributed to recording and depicting the history of life on Earth. In line with this tradition, the Federal Cultural Foundation and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin have embarked on a joint model project which invited international artists to develop interventions from 2014 to 2018 in one of the most renowned natural history museums in Europe.

The project featured interventions in the areas of sound art, fine art and literature, in which an experimental space for interactions between art, museum practice and natural research has been defined.

Model project

As both an exhibiting museum and research centre, the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin has been exceptionally suited for such an experiment. It is one of the few scientific institutions in the world which received a rating of “very good” to “excellent” for its achievements in research and knowledge communication by an international review board in 2013. The Federal Cultural Foundation and the Museum für Naturkunde regarded their collaboration as something that could serve as a model project for natural history museums in Germany and abroad. In this regard, the project also intended to develop criteria which could be applied to other natural history museums and collections. An international conference took place in 2017 at which natural history museums and their corresponding collections, artists and researchers have reviewed and discussed the initial results of the project.

Should the model project receive a positive assessment, the Museum für Naturkunde will continue the artistic project, for example in the form of an “artist-in-residence“ programme after funding from the Federal Cultural Foundation concludes. The programme will be coordinated together with the Museum Koenig in Bonn and the Senckenberg Naturmuseum in Frankfurt within the Leibniz Association and will be financed through a long-term sponsorship programme.

Art/Nature Round IV

For the final round of Art/Nature, the American artist Mark Dion has highlighted the tradition of researching and collecting in the exhibition space. Using historical animal dioramas, the Israeli video artist Assaf Gruber has made a film about a GDR-era coral reef expedition and the work of taxidermists. The installation by the British artist Elizabeth Price opened a window to the history of the museum. The composer Ulrike Haage has created a poetic micro-opera for singers, marimba, xylophone, chimes and percussion, with which she will bring the wet collection to life in four performances in February and March. The libretto for the micro-opera “Rete Mirabile | Wundernetz” was written by Mark Ravenhill.


The curators of the project were Bergit Arends, curator for contemporary art at the National History Museum in London, Gaby Hartel, cultural studies scholar, curator and radio specialist, and Cord Riechelmann, biologist, philosopher and journalist. Juan A. Gaitán, artistic director of the 8th Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art, acted as an advisor on the project in 2014/2015. Dorothée Brill and Christine Heidemann have joined the project team as visual arts curators in this fourth round of artistic interventions (2017-2018).

Art/Nature Round IV

Opening: 29 January 2018
Duration: 30 January – 29 April 2018

The fourth and final round of the Art/Nature pilot project featured interventions by the artists Mark Dion, Assaf Gruber and Elizabeth Price and a live musical performance with the composer Ulrike Haage.

Rete Mirabile | Wundernetz
Micro-opera by Ulrike Haage & Mark Ravenhill

World premiere
12 February 2018,
Performances at 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm

Additional performances
19 February, 26 February, 5 March 2018, each at 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm

  • Date


    World premiere "Rete Mirabile | Wundernetz"

    Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | Invalidenstraße 43 | Berlin

    30.01. –

    Art/Nature Round IV

    Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | Invalidenstraße 43 | Berlin


Museum für Naturkunde
PAN - Perspektiven auf Natur

Anita Hermannstädter (Head)
Yori Schultka (Coordination)
Invalidenstraße 43
10115 Berlin