The Research Museum in a Public Context

Representation of the study and politics of biodiversity

Ausstellung "Tote Wespen fliegen länger", Foto: Tahani Nadim

Prehistoric birds, dinosaur skeletons and fossils of every kind – the collections at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin (MfN) contain more than 30 million original botanical, zoological, paleontological, geological and mineralogical specimens. With the support of this fellowship, the museum wished to establish a forum for discussing the need to protect and sustainably use biological diversity. The fellow Tahani Nadim was responsible for investigating in what way biodiversity is presented at the museum. Is its measured statistically, supported by field research or interlinked with the ecosystem? Tahani Nadmi was able to present the various working processes related to this issue through socio-scientific methods, initiate changes to conventional working methods and museum structures, and establish new ties between departments, research institutes and participants. She actively engaged the public in a dialogue about biodiversity through scientific discussions, participation in social media and an exhibition.

Follow-up exhibition “Dead Wasps Fly Longer”

This exhibition project (external link, opens in a new window) examined the movement of specimens of natural history and the natural sciences and linked them to sociological and artistic perspectives and practices. The science sociologist Tahani Nadim and artist Åsa Sonjasdotter presented the factual and imagined journeys of three protagonists from the collections at the Berlin Museum of Natural History: an aphid wasp from northern Thailand, agave seeds from Tanzania and cosmic dust from outer space. The trajectories of these protagonists were outlined and expanded in three separate interventions in the exhibition and collection area which highlighted the dynamic interaction between spaces, times and classifications. Indeed, moving stories and relationships lie concealed beneath the apparent stillness of the specimens which cast our views of nature and our own relationship to the world in a different light.

An exhibition by Tahani Nadim (fellow of the International Fellowship Programme) and Åsa Sonjasdotter.

The International Museum Fellowship programme

With this funding programme, the Federal Cultural Foundation enables guest curators and researchers from abroad to work at museums or public collections in Germany for a duration of 18 months.

International Museum Fellowship (external link, opens in a new window)

Tahani Nadim, Fellow at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

For the past 16 years the Austrian sociologist of science Dr. Tahani Nadim (*1977) has lived and worked in London where she has developed novel theoretical and empirical approaches to study the rapidly expanding dataworlds in the life sciences. She completed her doctorate at the renowned Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths, where she founded the CSISP Salon. As a fellow of the Museum of Natural History Berlin she will undertake an ethnographic study of the biodiversity research at the museum, focusing on how biodiversity is enacted and negotiated in research as well as collection practices.


Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

Invalidenstraße 43

10115 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)