From June to August 2021, the open-air exhibition of the Wissensstadt (Knowledge City) took place in the heart of Berlin, between the Rotes Rathaus and the famous TV Tower. The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science was one of many Berlin institutes to present its work to the general public at the event, which sought to present Berlin as a global hub for research.
Visitors were able to trace the history of self-tracking by testing out our reconstructed scale from the seventeenth century, together with Research Scholar Teresa Hollerbach and assistants Nana Citron, Raphia Lina Zouaoui, and Elizabeth Hughes. The physician Sanctorius Sanctorius was the first to use such a scale for humans to measure physiological processes in the body: with this balance, visitors experienced for themselves just how much more complicated this was than with the fitness trackers and smartwatches of today.
The exhibition "The Mask-Arrayed" was dedicated to the iconic artifact of the Corona pandemic: the face mask. An international group of researchers and artists including project coordinators Regina Möller, Carolin Roeder, and Marianna Szczygielska showed that this seemingly simple object is in fact very complex! Visitors were able to explore the material, technology, and culture behind the artifact. How was the mask created? How has it been developed and adapted throughout history? This exhibition revealed the many such layers of this fascinating story.
Wissensstadt Berlin 2021 presented an exciting opportunity for us to bring some of our most fascinating and topical work to the public, and to gain new inspiration from our many visitors. Many thanks to the Wissensstadt Berlin 2021 organizing team, supporters from the MPIWG, and of course to all those of you who dropped by our exhibition!