The Collection Showcase at Forum Wissen

The Collection Showcase at Forum Wissen - Göttingen University's museum of knowledge - offers interdisciplinary insights into the diversity of Göttingen's collections. Scientific instruments stand right next to natural specimens, works of art enter into dialogue with plants or animals. Models and books illustrate findings that come from the university's laboratories, workshops, seminar rooms and offices.

QR codes for each collection are attached to the showcase. Using their smartphone, visitors can easily find out more about the respective collections and objects on display. We offer access to this information here, on the one hand according to the layout on site (floor plan), and on the other hand in the four rough categories of the collection portal: culture, nature, medicine and apparatuses.

Royal Model Chamber

The Model Chamber is one of the oldest collections at Göttingen University. At one time, the various objects from engineering and mining, agriculture and water extraction were distributed throughout the university and served as a practical visualisation method in the training of higher civil servants. The economist Johann Beckmann used the models not only in class, but also to prepare for excursions to the mining industry in the Harz Mountains. With the help of the models, the students could establish a practical relationship to the constructions.

Ancient History Film Archive

This is what ancient Rome might have looked like - this is the message that antique films convey with their depictions of the past. Archaeological excavations have long been documented on film. Ancient historians give interviews for various television formats; journalists trace ancient travel routes. The era is also often used in commercials or instrumentalised in political image films.

What images of antiquity are created in the process? How and why is Greek, Germanic, Roman or Celtic history told? Since its foundation in 2017, the Stern Collection Film Archive for Ancient Studies has been a place where such questions are answered through research and long-term preservation of the material.

The collection goes back to the estate of archaeologist, film researcher and museum educator Tom Stern (1958-2016). Since then, donations have expanded the material and content of the collection, often beyond the film testimonies themselves. When it comes to scientifically classifying films and their impact, objects from the history of their creation and use are also part of the collection: a script, a projector or a performance programme.

Collections of the Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics

In the Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, pollen and spores are collected to research vegetation history. The collection is purely a research and teaching collection and is not exhibited.

The collections of the Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics are divided into three sections: The department's comparative collections, the Dendrolab's collection and database of recent and subfossil wood, and the Willerding Palaeo-Ethnobotanical Collection.

Collection of Historical Objects at the Institute of Astrophysics

The collection goes back to one of the oldest institutions at Göttingen University, the observatory founded in 1748. It documents two and a half centuries of scientific history as well as the work of outstanding Göttingen scientists, including Tobias Mayer (1723-1762), Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) and Karl Schwarzschild (1873-1916). It includes an extensive collection of objects and instruments from the 17th to the 20th century that were used for astronomical and geodetic measurements as well as for other scientific research at the Göttingen University Observatory.

Wildlife Science Collection

This column of the collection showcase will not be fully populated until January 2023.

Wildlife science is concerned with the interactions between wild animals and their habitats in different ecosystems. The origin of the collection goes back to the wildlife biology research and teaching activities of the Forestry Academy founded in Hannoversch Münden in 1868. Today, the collection features exhibits of native and exotic wildlife, with a focus on mammal antlers and horns. The extensive collection of antlers of the native roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), for example, demonstrates the variability of antler formation. A large number of so-called abnormal horns allow the causes of their development to be explained on the object.

Forest Zoology Collection

The origin of the Forest Zoological Collection lies in the zoological research and teaching activities of the Forest Academy founded in Hannoversch Münden in 1868. Separate teaching collections were soon started for the subjects of entomology, general zoology, ornithology and mammalogy. They have survived the times with considerable growth and comprehensively show the insects, birds and huntable game species native to southern Lower Saxony, the latter on the basis of antler and horn preparations.

This column of the collection showcase will not be filled until January 2023.

Currently, you will find a selection of digitally available objects from the collection here.

Numismatic Collection

With over 40,000 coins and medals, the Georgia Augusta is in possession of the third largest academic coin cabinet in Germany (after those of Leipzig and Tübingen Universities). The collection was founded in 1773, when the natural and "art objects", including numerous coins of Göttingen professor Christian Wilhelm Büttner (1716 - 1801), were acquired for the Georg August University. Under the direction of Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729 - 1812), this became the "Royal Academic Museum". As a classical philologist, Heyne was primarily interested in the coins of the Roman Republic, but the collection also contained post-ancient coins from the beginning.

Anthropological Collection

The collection of the Department of Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology is one of the relatively young collections of the university. In the 1950s, the foundation was laid by the transfer of an extensive collection of human skulls from the Hamburg Ethnological Museum. The Remane collection of primate skulls from Kiel supplemented this in the 1970s. In the meantime, the Göttingen collection contains numerous skeletal series of different periods from various regions of Germany. It is constantly being expanded with (pre)historical skeletons that are not intended for reburial. 

Forest Botanical Garden and Phytogeographical Arboretum

This column of the Collection Showcase is only temporary and will be fully populated in January 2023. Thank you for your understanding.

The Forest Botanical Garden and the Plant Geographical Arboretum of the University of Göttingen comprise more than 2,000 woody species on approx. 40 hectares. They thus represent one of the largest and most species-rich collections of woody plants in the German-speaking region. In the early 1970s, the forestry facilities were moved from Hann. Münden to Göttingen. For this reason, between 1968 and 1993, under Professor Walter Eschrich (1924-2005), in addition to the already existing Old Botanical Garden, the Forest Botanical Garden at Faßberg, above the North Campus, was established as a collection with a focus on woody plants.

Collection at the Seminar of Egyptology and Coptic Studies

The Aegyptiaca of the University of Göttingen, some of which were acquired for the Academic Museum as early as the end of the 18th century on the initiative of J. F. Blumenbach (1752-1840), are distributed among various collections. Mummies, parts of mummies and funerary equipment are kept in the Archaeological Collections, the Anthropological Collection and in the collection of the Centre for Anatomy. In contrast, most of the objects now at the Department of Egyptology and Coptology are on permanent loan from the Ethnological Collection and still bear corresponding inventory numbers. These came into the possession of the Institute of Ethnology (today: Institute of Ethnology) in 1939 via the private collector Emilie Ronath. Mrs Ronath had collected them during her work as an educator in Egypt between 1881 and 1887. The teaching collection of the Department of Egyptology and Coptology is supplemented by a ceramics teaching collection established by Hermann Kees (1886-1964), director of the department from 1924 to 1945 (recorded and dated by Eva-Maria Engel in 2012).

The Aegyptiaca of the Ethnological Collection were transferred to the Seminar for Egyptology and Coptology on permanent loan as a result of an exhibition of Egyptian small art objects in 1997. They are catalogued in the "Catalogue of the Aegyptiaca of the Ethnological Collection of the Georg August University Göttingen" (Göttingen 2005) by Barbara Böhm, which contains 73 objects with inventory numbers.

Collection of Historical Objects at the Institute of Geophysics

The Institute of Geophysics has its origins in the Geomagnetic Institute, which was founded in January 1898 as a spin-off of "Department B" of the University of Göttingen Observatory. On 2 July 1898, the Erdmagnetisches Institut was expanded into a Geophysical Institute, with Emil Wiechert appointed as its director. This created the world's first institute for geophysics. The Institute's collection was only established in 1997 and contains mainly equipment and apparatus for geodetic and geomagnetic measurements from the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Blechschmidt Collection of Human Embryology

Research into early human gestalt development relies on collections of chance finds, for example miscarriages. Only very few collections of human embryos exist worldwide. The most important is the Carnegie Collection in Washington D.C., which was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Franklin P. Mall (1862-1917), a student of the Leipzig anatomist Wilhelm His (1831-1904). The director of the Göttingen Anatomical Institute, Erich Blechschmidt (1904-1992), also saw himself in the tradition of His, who is considered the founder of human embryological research. From 1942 to 1969, Blechschmidt built up a collection of 430 histological section series of human embryos and foetuses, which is now world-famous.

Computer Museum of the GWDG

The GWDG Computer Museum was founded in 1980 on the initiative of Manfred Eyßell (†). As curator, he maintained and expanded the collection with great commitment. The most important objects include components and accessories of the UNIVAC mainframe computer, which the GWDG was founded to operate. With the help of these objects, as well as other calculating machines, data carriers and electrical components, the Computer Museum traces the history of the development of computer technology and data processing worldwide and especially in Göttingen.

Collection of Mathematical Models and Instruments

More than 500 objects are on display, including many geometric models made of plaster, wood, cardboard, thread or metal, as well as calculating machines, drawing instruments, integraphs, kinematic and mechanical models. The oldest models are cardboard polyhedra from 1780, but most of the objects date from the period between 1870 and 1920 and provide a rich insight into the mathematics of this era, when Göttingen became one of the most important mathematical centres in the world at the time.

Old Botanical Garden

The Old Botanical Garden at the Karspüle was founded in 1736 and is thus one of the oldest facilities at the university. Conceived by Albrecht von Haller as Hortus Medicus, the garden still fulfils an important function in botanical research and teaching. In addition, it is appreciated by around 100,000 visitors a year as a "window on nature" and has also become home to many, sometimes rare, animal species as an inner-city biodiversity hotspot. 

Since the partly manicured, partly natural garden has remained in the same place with the same function since its founding, and the historic greenhouses have also survived the world wars unscathed, the charming grounds are a precious gem of the university not only biologically and culturally, but also historically. 

Museum of Göttingen Chemistry

The Museum of Göttingen Chemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry was founded in 1979 and contains numerous historical objects and documents of a very diverse nature on the history of chemistry at the University of Göttingen since its foundation in 1737 in the permanent exhibition and in the magazine. The collection is still being continuously expanded today through acquisitions and donations. The museum is supported by a sponsoring association, most of whose members are chemistry professors working in Göttingen and former Göttingen chemistry graduates.

Heinz Kirchhoff Collection - "Symbols of the Feminine"

Die ursprüngliche Privatsammlung des Göttinger Professors für Gynäkologie und Geburtshilfe Prof. Dr. Heinz Kirchhoff (1905-1997), der neben seiner engagierten Tätigkeit als Gynäkologe ein leidenschaftlicher Sammler war, umfasst rund 650 weibliche Statuetten und Skulpturen von der Altsteinzeit bis zur Neuzeit. Während zu Beginn der Sammlung die Ästhetik und Schönheit der Figuren im Vordergrund stand, sammelte Kirchhoff ab den 1960er Jahren zunehmend Frauendarstellungen, die die weibliche Symbolik und ihre verschiedenen Bedeutungen veranschaulichen.

Collection of Presidential Gifts

The collection of presidential gifts offers an insight into the institutional relationships that the University of Göttingen maintains with other universities and scientific institutions worldwide. These are often objects that exemplify the traditions or achievements of a region or culture. At the same time, the collection represents an international cross-section of material gift culture. Tableware, textiles and small sculptures are frequently represented. 

Collection of Musical Instruments

The collection of musical instruments, which is affiliated to the Department of Musicology at the University of Göttingen as a teaching and research collection, is one of the largest in Germany. Its typologically, historically and cultural-geographically wide-ranging holdings include musical instruments from all over the world, especially from Europe, Asia and Africa, including ancient Egypt. It is primarily used for teaching and research in the field of musical instruments.

Pharmacognostic Collection

After about 60 years, this unique medical history collection was discovered in an attic by scientists from Göttingen University in 2001 and saved from destruction. The collection comprises more than 8,500 individual items, most of which are still in their original packaging, including boxes and jars containing, among other things, tree bark brought back from South America by Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). The range of the holdings is impressive. For example, there are several hundred different Chinese barks alone, as well as numerous roots of rhubarb plants from a wide variety of origins. The collection offers a cross-section of the "materia medica" of the 19th century. It is thus probably the oldest and most comprehensive collection of medicinally effective natural substances in Germany. However, the collection also contains various curiosities, such as lizards in lavender flowers.

Institute of Archaeology

The Institute's collection of original works of sculpture, ceramics and other genres of ancient arts and crafts dates back to the early history of the University of Göttingen and remains an essential resource for research and teaching at the Archaeological Institute today. It includes a variety of different vessels, terracottas, bronzes, reliefs, gem imprints and fragments.

Collection of Historical Physics Instruments »Physicalisches Cabinet«

The collection shows experiments and objects from teaching and research from the beginnings of physics in Göttingen in the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century, when physics in Göttingen achieved worldwide prominence. Highlights of the collection are exhibits from the time of Lichtenberg, Gauss and Weber and the beginnings of modern physics. It is not only part of the teaching, but also an important contribution to the public relations work of the Faculty of Physics.

Geoscience Museum, Collection + Geopark

The collections of the Geosciences Centre of the University of Göttingen consist of more than a dozen sub-collections in the fields of palaeontology, mineralogy, geology and meteoritics. With more than four million objects and series, including countless originals relating to scientific publications of the past almost 300 years, they are among the most important holdings in Europe. Today, they represent the fourth largest geoscientific collection in Germany.

Collection on the History of Obstetrics

The collection of about 1,200 objects on the history of obstetrics (instruments, models, preparations, etc.) dates from the 18th and 19th centuries. The academic teachers of obstetrics and respective directors of the Accouchierhaus in Göttingen - including Friedrich Benjamin Osiander (1759-1822) and Eduard von Siebold (1801-1861) - built it up as a teaching and research collection. It is supplemented by the detailed birth records of the first clinic directors as well as other precious archival documents from the early days of academic obstetrics.

Collection of Medical Moulages

The collection comprises almost 80, mostly well-preserved moulages of high quality, depicting skin diseases in general as well as findings of the diseases syphilis, gonorrhoea and tuberculosis, which were widespread at the time. They were mainly produced in the 1920s and 1930s. The collection of the Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine is one of the most important moulage collections still preserved in the German-speaking world.

Experimental Botanical Garden

The Experimental Botanical Garden is the scientific experimental garden of Göttingen University. Scientific research, plant cultivation for teaching, environmental education, conservation of endangered plant species and information for the public are to find their place there.

Collection of Pre-Columbian Objects

In 2016, the University of Göttingen received a collection of about 300 pre-Columbian objects from the estate of the agronomist Erich Carl Raddatz (1924-2010). These are objects that date back to the time before the 'discovery' of America by Christopher Columbus and were found on the territory of the present-day state of Colombia. The collection focuses on objects from two archaeological complexes in southern Colombia, known as Tumaco and Nariño. Their sphere of influence extended beyond the borders of present-day Colombia and can also be traced to present-day Ecuador, where the Tumaco culture is known as La Tolita.

Collection of the Department of Animal Sciences

Teaching collection containing animal skeletons, animal skulls, historical animal models, wool and fur samples, glass plate positives and measuring instruments, some of which can be dated to the beginning of the 20th century and originate primarily from field research. Until about 20 years ago, the objects were used in teaching courses, and after a necessary inspection and digitalisation, they are to be used again increasingly in teaching and research. 

Collection of Historical Children‘s and Youth Literature

Books for children and young people were only collected extremely rarely by university libraries, which is why sources of literary children's culture from past centuries are not to be found everywhere. The University of Göttingen, on the other hand, can boast the collections of historical children's and youth media Vordemann, Seifert and Wehner, the Dahrendorf library as well as a constantly updated stock of current children's and youth literature.

Arts Collection

The history of the University of Göttingen's art collection dates back to the founding years of the Georgia Augusta. The collection is thus one of the oldest cultural institutions in Göttingen. Its basic holdings emerged from two significant endowments: in 1736, the Frankfurt patrician Johann Friedrich Armand von Uffenbach (1687-1769) decided to leave his extensive holdings of prints and drawings to the University after his death. The second formative donation consisted of around 300 paintings and is owed to Johann Wilhelm Zschorn (1714-1795). Thus, towards the end of the 18th century, the oldest university art collection in Germany was created. 

University Herbarium

The herbarium of Göttingen University is one of the largest and most important institutions of its kind in Germany. It houses around 800,000 dried and archived plants from all parts of the world. Among these are more than 12,000 type specimens, i.e. collection objects on the basis of which the first scientific description of a species was made. In addition to classical botanical studies such as revisions, monographs and contributions to floras, the plant specimens of the Göttingen herbarium are used today primarily for molecular studies that pursue evolutionary and biogeographical questions.

Ethnographic Collection

The Ethnological Collection of the University of Göttingen is one of the most important teaching and research collections in the German-speaking world. Its beginnings date back to the time of the late Enlightenment. The collection currently comprises more than 19,000 objects from all continents. These provide an insight into the cultural achievements and forms of expression of representatives of numerous, predominantly non-European societies. The objects are regularly part of research and teaching and are also repeatedly presented to the public in exhibitions.

University Archives

The university archive has the function of a state archive for the university. It has the task of taking over the archives from the written records of all the university's institutions, making them accessible and usable. This includes all administrative documents that are of lasting value for the fulfilment of public tasks and historical research. The holdings of the Göttingen University Archives are particularly valuable because they provide a complete record of the central university authorities since the university was founded in 1737 and have not been decimated by war losses or destruction. 

Göttingen Culture Collection of Algae

The collection of algal cultures at the University of Göttingen (SAG) is one of the world's largest and oldest living collections of microscopic algae and cyanobacteria. Since its foundation in 1954 by E.G. Pringsheim (1881-1970), its holdings have grown to more than 2,700 isolates. These come mainly from terrestrial habitats and freshwater. One fifth of the algal isolates deposited in Göttingen are particularly valuable type strains. As a biological resource and competence centre, the collection has an international reputation and serves science, teaching and biotechnology worldwide.

Collections of the Göttingen State and University Library

The Göttingen University Library, founded in 1734, was the first to realise the concept of a modern research library. As early as the 18th century, it built up holdings of national and international standing, which were continuously maintained throughout the rest of its history. This has given rise to a wide range of tasks for the library at regional, national and international level. Today, the Göttingen State and University Library is one of the largest libraries in Germany with a collection of around 8 million media units. 

Cast Collection of Antique Sculptures

The Archaeological Institute of the University of Göttingen has the oldest university cast collection in the world. With more than 2,000 true-to-scale reproductions of ancient sculptures from over 150 museums, it is still one of the largest institutions of its kind. The exhibits are mainly from the Greek and Roman cultural spheres. The cast collection is still a central component of teaching at the institute today.

Biodiversity Museum Zoological Collection

The collections of the Biodiversity Museum go back to the "Königliches Academische Museum Göttingen" (Royal Academic Museum Göttingen), which was founded in 1773 to hold the collections of Christian Wilhelm Büttner (1716-1801) after their purchase. In the following years, the completely disorganised collection was then arranged and catalogued by the then sub-supervisor Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840). It was also Blumenbach who increased the collections extensively in the following decades through purchases and donations. Only a few objects from these beginnings remain in the Biodiversity Museum today.

Diplomatic Apparatus

The Diplomatic Apparatus (Apparatus diplomaticus) is a scientific institution of the Faculty of Arts. It comprises an unparalleled collection of far more than a thousand written documents from late antiquity, the Middle Ages and early modern times, written in a wide variety of languages, especially ancient and non-European languages (including Latin, Middle German, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Tamil, Sinhalese). As early as the university's founding period, there was a didactically oriented "Diplomatic Cabinet", which from 1759 served diplomatics, the teaching of the indexing and research of documents, but also contained manuscripts, seals and copperplate reproductions. The current apparatus, created in 1802, still contains papal, imperial, royal, ecclesiastical, dynastic, municipal and private civil documents.

Teaching Collection for Pre- and Protohistory

In 1929, with the establishment of the subject of prehistory and early history at Göttingen University, the teaching collection on prehistoric archaeology was also set up. A teaching collection is still indispensable for university education in an object-related science that explicitly deals with material culture. The foundation stone was laid by permanent loans from the Provinzialmuseum Hannover, mainly pieces of non-Hanoverian provenance and duplicates. The first prehistoric and early historical objects, however, arrived at the university's "Royal Academic Museum" at the beginning of the 19th century due to a steadily growing interest in "Germanic antiquity".

Teaching Collection for Pre- and Protohistory: Collection and Archaeological Originals

The find material illustrates various aspects of food, trade and extensive interpersonal exchange for the different periods from the Neolithic to the Migration Period. On the one hand, it is the objects themselves that can be integrated into European connections. For example, there are objects in the Bronze Age that were made hundreds of kilometres away and found their way into the ground elsewhere. Then there are objects whose design can only be explained by contact with people from other regions, such as the house urns, which show a conspicuous accumulation especially in northern Italy (Etruria). 

The various objects then contain further information that can be determined with the help of the various natural sciences. The origin of copper and tin from the various deposits on the basis of the metal composition; the origin of people and animals from neighbouring or distant regions on the basis of the local rock formations ingested with the food and drinking water; the nutritional basis, body size and workload of prehistoric people with corresponding bone examinations on the surviving skeletal remains.  The collections can thus be consulted again and again for modern questions with their original substance, and with their copies they provide vivid evidence of the extensive cultural contacts in European prehistory. 

Wood Science Teaching Collection

Wood - valuable raw material of the past, present and future

Wood is a natural raw material that is formed exclusively by solar energy and natural raw materials.

Wood produces itself: wood only grows on wood. In addition, the individual trees in the forest form a unique ecosystem that significantly increases the quality of our planet with its diverse functions and is also indispensable for human existence today. Wood is certainly one of the oldest raw materials used by man. As a material for fire and for building shelters, it was indispensable. Without this raw material, the development of mankind would not have been possible. Because of its sustainable use, wood will continue to play a decisive role in the future. During tree growth, CO2 is bound and fixed in the wood for the duration of its use and thus removed from the atmosphere. Only during decomposition (in the forest) or combustion is this CO2 released again. With sustainable use, only the growth is used and the system thus remains CO2-neutral.

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