Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands

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Anthropocene exhibition logo

Together with the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the Deutsches Museum hosted a major special exhibition: “Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands” (5 December 2014 through 30 September 2016). The endeavor was based on a proposal by Prof. Dr. Reinhold Leinfelder developed during his fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center and the book Menschenzeit by Christian Schwägerl. Both Leinfelder, in his function as affiliated Carson Professor, and Schwägerl were involved in the conceptualization process of the exhibition. The exhibition team was led by Dr. Nina Möllers; the cooperation partner was the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

The exhibition visualized the history, present, and (scientifically based) future of the Anthropocene as well as the deep interventions of humans into the geo- and biosphere over the last two centuries. It was not, however, conceptualized as a history of decline, but as a complex story of shaping. Here, scientific concepts of sustainable transformation and a society that overcomes the dualism between humans and nature are as important as today’s problematic phenomena and the ethical challenges connected with them. The topics of the exhibition included, among others: humankind as destroyer, but also as creator and designer; the anthropogenic planet that is shaped and changed by human beings; historically grown consumption patterns and lifestyles; time and space as important factors in the Anthropocene; and the future as challenge but also as chance for humankind and its political institutions, social networks, and dreams.

In cooperation with the Deutsches Museum, the Environment & Society Portal created a virtual exhibition of the same name, reflecting the topics that the museum exhibition addresses and opens up for discussion.