Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin was established by Wilhelm von Humboldt two hundred years ago. Back to 1810, Wilhelm von Humboldt’s vision was to introduce a new type of unity of research and teaching, to uphold the ideal of research without restrictions and to provide a comprehensive education for its students.

During its history, the HU has undergone many profound changes. Following the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the alma mater became the most esteemed university in Germany, home to 29 Nobel Prize including like Fritz Haber, Robert Koch or Max Planck. Prominent individuals such as Angela Davis, Lise Meitner, Otto von Bismarck, Christian Johann Heinrich Heine also studied here. The founding and rise of HU were inspired by the commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, continuing reforms, social responsibilities, and equal opportunities for all. Every year over 5,000 students decide to embark on their studies at HU in the heart of Berlin. There is hardly any other place where you can find the same variety: 185 degree courses, among which 21 international Master’s programmes with lectures and seminars held in English.

The HU currently partners with over 170 scientific institutions on all continents. It defines itself as a university of reform in the name of excellence and has a full-time management board. The advocacy of young researchers, a system of quality control in research and teaching, and the continuous study reform make the HU one of the leading German universities with broad national and international recognition, as numerous university rankings show every year. Its mission is to promote young talents to influence society positively.

Something which affects me personally more directly than anything else is the establishment of a new university here in Berlin.

– Wilhelm von Humboldt

Statue of Wilhelm von Humboldt.
Figure 1. Statue of Wilhelm von Humboldt
Statue of Alexander von Humboldt.
Figure 2. Statue of Alexander von Humboldt


The Centre for British Studies is a teaching and research institution of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin covering multiple aspects of British society. The centre was established to recognize the role of the UK in protecting West Berlin during the Cold War after the fall of the Wall. It officially opened in June 1995, in the presence of the British Ambassador, Sir Nigel Broomfield and the governing Mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen. The centre views organizing public lectures and encouraging cultural exchange as part of its responsibilities.

Its interdisciplinary MA research programme covers six branches: British history, politics, economics, law, literature, culture and the media. Students choose three out of the six as their study focuses. Additionally, the programme integrates practical work with theoretical research, by offering connections with internships in the UK and organising cultural projects. Students gain practical skills and work experience which equip them with international competence, either in the academic field or on the professional market. Through close personal tuition, the Centre for British Studies graduates critical thinkers and highly skilled specialists.

The Centre hosts a broad range of individual research projects, postdoctoral studies, research colloquiums and the Berlin Graduate School for British Studies. Central to this is the Berlin-Britain Research Network which brings together researchers from the UK and from Germany. Therefore, the teaching staff assembles both highly-qualified professors and lecturers of the HU, as well as guest lecturers, academics, practitioners from Britain.

Britons in Berlin: An Exploration through the Senses

The Centre for British Studies (Humboldt University Berlin) proudly presents “Britons in Berlin: An Exploration through the Senses”, a virtual interactive exhibition where visitors will discover Berlin and the art of its British visitors. Through our stations, online discussions and panels, participants will have the opportunity to gain a thorough insight into the works and experiences of these British artists and their link to Berlin, as well as the way in which they experienced the city with all their senses.

Berlin has long been known as a hub for artists looking for both inspiration and a place to call home, where they feel free to realise their creative potential. Over the years, the free, vibrant, and stimulating character of the city attracted creative minds from all over the world, including many from Britain. How did British artists experience the city? What influence did Berlin have on their art? How was Berlin represented in their works? To answer these questions, the exhibition looks at British artists’ experience in Berlin, as it was felt with all the senses. The overall time period covers the 1920s to the present day, with particular attention paid to the Weimar years, the Cold War, and Brexit.

The exhibition will be organised around the five senses. Five stations – Visual, Audiovisual, Audio, Touch, and Smell and Taste are set up to trace British artists’ experience in Berlin through different sensations. A bonus station explores the potential of the sixth sense – the sense for words. These stations introduce the audience to British visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, cabaret performers, writers, as well as to the art they have created in response to their experience in Berlin. In addition to this, the exhibition traces how innovations in technology have contributed to the British artistic creation in Berlin throughout the decades. The project also offers activities suitable for children, interactive formats and two live events.

Project Coordinator:

Anisia Petcu, M.A.


Matilda Bako, Evgeniia Balko, Eylem Beşiroğlu, Mareike Bruckmann, Lilli Carter, Ruoying Chen, Siyuan Chen, Alexei Dmitriev, Isabel Förster, Ilya Fraynt, Salih Gündoğmuş, Wei Chun Hung, Jamie-Lee Jones, Anastasiia Krasnoiaruzhenskaia, Melanie Ludewig, Soledad Mabel Mercado, Zeynep Asel Özgüldez, Luisa Sofie Rombach, Afruz Rustamzade, Hasti Shahri, Anna Solodovnikova, Türkü Soylu, Alexander Timokhin, Shuhan Wang.

Special thanks for their help in creating the website goes to:

Alexa Spread, 
Babelsberg Film Studio, Barbara Loftus, Ben Palmer, Catherine Smith, Chiara Harrison Lambe, Christopher Winter, Corinna Radke, David Bell, Dr. Barbara Wünnenberg, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation, John Davies, Le Pustra, Mary-Rose Doorly, Mhairi Gador-Whyte, Margaret Hunter, Nosmo the King, Prof Dr Gesa Stedman, Sofia Permiakova.

Figure 1. Wilhelm von Humboldt Denkmal © Christian Wolf
Figure 2. Alexander von Humboldt Denkmal © Christian Wolf