New home for natural history in Hamburg

Leibniz Research Museum to be built in HafenCity

© Authority for Science, Research, Equality and Districts

The new building of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) will be built on Baufeld 51 in HafenCity. The showcase project for the world of science and museums will include innovative exhibitions as well as space for research infrastructure such as laboratories and sufficient room to house the valuable scientific collections.

Global biodiversity loss has accelerated dramatically in recent decades. To better protect habitats and restore damaged ecosystems, we need to better understand the interplay of species and the role of humans in the loss of biodiversity. This will happen in future in the new LEIBNIZ RESEARCH MUSEUM FOR NATURAL HISTORY in HafenCity: the new building will not be a classic museum or a pure research institute. In the future, the LIB will reflect the triad that the Leibniz Research Museums stand for – as in the other large Leibniz Research Museums of Natural History in Berlin, Frankfurt and Bonn: Here, excellent research, innovative exhibitions, laboratories and space for housing scientific collections are brought together under one roof. This results in very specific requirements for the building and thus also for the location of the research museum. The steering group now spoke out in favour of a new building on construction site 51.

Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science: “We are very happy that after a long, intensive search we have found a new, prominent home for natural history in Hamburg. This is a great success for our science location and for strengthening biodiversity research in Hamburg. The new LIB will combine three important elements under one roof: excellent research, a comprehensive collection and exciting exhibitions. In this way, we can make important research areas tangible for museum visitors and link them to current topics, such as climate change or infection research. Research and knowledge transfer come together here in a forward-looking way.”

Franz-Josef Höing, Chief Building Director: “The Leibniz Research Museum is getting a fitting location in a central inner-city location. On the eastern shore of the area Magdeburger Hafen there is enough space for the building, whose face and shape will have to be qualified in the next steps.”

Prof. Dr. Martina Brockmeier, President of the Leibniz Association: “I am very pleased that the State of Hamburg has now made the next necessary decisions on the way to the new building for the Hamburg branch of the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change. The site that has now been chosen offers the opportunity to build a completely new research museum, which will thus meet the needs for modern educational methods, a valuable museum collection and excellent research in one building. The chosen location, close to Hafencity University but also to the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, offers good connections to local science as well as very good accessibility for visitors. The Leibniz Association is pleased to gain another attractive location for a research museum in northern Germany.”

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Misof, Director General Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB): “Now we have taken a big step forward: I am very pleased about the decision for this attractive, central location for the new natural history museum in HafenCity! Hamburg is thus distinguishing itself in and beyond Germany as a beacon of science and its communication. Our Leibniz Research Museum will benefit enormously from the new possibilities to closely interweave and optimally utilise the areas of research, collection and exhibition. In the middle of Hamburg, a sustainably oriented museum building and concept will give us a unique opportunity to inspire people about the beauty of nature, to work for its preservation and thus to effectively counter the biodiversity crisis.”

Prof. Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht, scientific project manager: “The first piece of good news is that Hamburg is now actually – so many decades after the destruction of the old Natural History Museum during the war – now getting a magnificent natural history museum again with the “Evolutioneum”. And the second piece of good news is that this is not only to be realised in a central location, but to a certain extent in the first row and in the best location in the city. This will not only provide accommodation for an integrated research museum based on collection, research and exhibition. What is important to me above all is that we will be able to present the so important and central topic of the biodiversity crisis and the role of humans as a factor in evolution to visitors through innovative ideas of knowledge transfer. We now also have to develop an architecturally spectacular shell for this.”

About Baufeld 51 in HafenCity
Together with other authorities and urban stakeholders, BWFGB has examined numerous sites and buildings in Hamburg’s urban area, including potentially suitable locations in Hamburg’s core inner city. Following this site potential analysis, the city steering group came out in favour of Baufeld 51 in HafenCity, as this site met the evaluation criteria by far the best: The HafenCity site is characterised by a central location and remarkable appeal. The new LIB is being built in Elbtorquartier between Überseeallee, Shanghaiallee and Hongkongstraße – it is thus close to HafenCity University (HCU) and the International Maritime Museum Hamburg (IMMH). This prestigious location with its waterfront route along the Elbtorpromenade is expected to attract a large number of visitors. This means that the new LIB can also serve to link the city centre and HafenCity. Building site 51 promises very good urban integration into the science and museum landscape.

Important criteria for the choice of location were the available space and the possible start of construction. In addition, there were urban planning criteria, such as the location of the site and the integration of the museum into the existing museum and science landscape. The relationship to nature on the Elbe also played a role, as did compatibility with the development of the content of the new exhibition and economic criteria.

Within the framework of the site potential analysis, plots of land were rejected on which the needs of the new LIB could not be adequately met. For example, because the necessary building volume is not sufficient – i.e. the building plots are too small. This applies to the inner city sites on offer. In addition, the availability of the sites in terms of time was an important factor; some plots are not available in time. There were also sites that were then no longer available in the course of the potential analysis because investors were planning another use in the meantime. The BWFGB had commissioned the HIS Institute for Higher Education Development e. V. to assess the space requirements. Interim results are already available. The complete study will be available in spring 2023 and will provide an important basis for the subsequent architectural competition. The Hamburg Senate will later work with the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) to determine the proposal that best suits the LIB in terms of both urban planning and content. In parallel, the development of the content of the exhibition and mediation area will be advanced.


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Museum of Nature Hamburg
Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change
Mareen Gerisch
Head of Communication and Press


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