Dr. Stefan Brandt of Futurium

The urge to get involved in designing the future actively becomes increasingly stronger in times of political challenges and great uncertainties. Futurium, located in Berlin, wants to be part of this process and has created a place on the future that has never been seen before in this form. In an interview Director Dr. Stefan Brandt explains in what way Futurium will shape the city of Berlin. 

The future is uncertain and complex. How is Futurium going to change this? It is not Futurium’s task to make the future foreseeable nor would we want to do that. What we want, however, is to get people into touch with the future - with ideas, visions of utopia. This is particularly for those people that feel being left behind by the future today or who connect future with anxieties above all. At Futurium we want to talk about the future and be a platform where the future can be discussed mutually. What this is going to look like depends on the decisions we are making currently. The big question which touches all sections must finally be: How do we want to live? By answering this question each and every one will influence the future a little bit - and can in this way be part of designing the future.  

What exactly is Futurium? A museum, an exhibition, an adventure park? Futurium is a place completely new and one that has never existed before in Germany, where types of future are presented, discussed and transformed into specific actions. Futurium joins something that otherwise would not come together: ideas, people, institutions. A wide spectrum of offers - from exhibitions via workshops and discussions right up to artistic projects and digital formats will provide visitors with an impetus to occupy themselves with questions about the future. The audience are requested to participate in all these formats, which is very important to us. 

In what way will the various stakeholders be affected: citizens, companies, tourists, the city, etc.? It is our endeavour to provide all those visiting us with an impetus that they can take back into their everyday life. More sustainability, for example, is not only a political question but also one of individual behaviour and continuously thinking about this question. In turn, based on all this, it will be easier to formulate and submit specific expectations to politics and other stakeholders. 

You will open in September 2019. What exactly have you planned? A grand opening weekend for everyone, turning around our main subject: How can we design our future? The programme will be interdisciplinary and include discussions as well as playful elements and artistic contributions. 

Which partners would you want to involve? We are backed by a broad basis with our 15 shareholders that provide us with a lot of expertise. Beyond that there are additional co-operations for the individual events. We have successfully rehearsed all this during our pre-opening phase. Partners from all social sections were involved from citizen’s initiatives via start-ups and scientific institutions right up to cultural institutions. 

Is this about providing ‘entertaining information‘ on the future or will specific projects be created? Can you support start-ups or individual persons financially who have good ideas for the future? We believe that we can create the future jointly. In this start-ups will play an important role. We are definitely not an incubator for start-ups - but maybe ideas on the future will be created in the lab that may inspire new start-ups later on. In Futurium we are not concerned about ‘entertainment’ but about ‘being close to real life’. By offering a multitude of formats - also entertaining - we want to bring the subjects closer to the people who can specifically relate to them in real life. How could Artificial Intelligence affect medicine in future? What will it mean to the way diagnoses are established? How will the role of the physician change?

What does the cluster of subjects comprise? Our exhibition consists of many subjects and subject clusters that we have divided into three ‘think rooms’: Human beings - Nature - Technology. Within the three think rooms we have prioritised subjects that we think are relevant to the future. These may be subjects that have so far only been researched in laboratories or even subjects on which there is already a broad social discussion ongoing. 

In what way does Futurium represent the City of Berlin?There exists a famous saying by the art critic Karl Scheffler dating back to 1910, that  ‘Berlin is condemned always to become and never to be’ [dazu verdammt sei, immerfort zu werden und niemals zu sein]. We view the aspect of ‘to become’ in a similar way, however, much more positive: Berlin is a city that is constantly changing, always looking for something new despite its historic scars, internationally linked and obviously attractive for many a creative head.