Gesichter des LIB: Sabine Heine

Sabine Heine in the permanent position in Bonn in front of the elk-bison diorama. © LIB, Holzapfel


It has to do with species collectors and sympathetic nerds. With researchers who search for the tiniest morphological or genetic differences in the lab and in the field, discover and describe new species or document biological diversity and change in minute detail. Sabine Heine is head of the Press and Communication Department at Museum Koenig Bonn.

What does your professional life look like?

I no longer do research myself. What our scientists research, I also bring to the public with a team of museum educators, exhibition makers and communication experts. In this way, society learns how important our research is – and that the tax money that flows into LIB research institutions is well spent. We make research results tangible, create meeting spaces in the museum, behind the scenes, but also outside.

What are the highlights of your work?

With the Museum Mile Festival, the Bonn Biodiversity Days together with the Conference of Species and the För-Tax Conference, or the action plan of the eight research museums of the Leibniz Association, there was and is always a lot to do. And the special results of the research areas must be brought to the fore in the press work. Newly discovered species, how evolution works or how we are trying to reduce the use of pollutants in agriculture in order to increase species diversity at the same time – all this interests the public.

How do you explain your job to an 11-year-old child?

There are eight Leibniz research museums with an action plan. In each individual museum, it becomes clear why collections are made there, why objects are kept “for eternity” and future knowledge. The collection items retain their value. To understand this, creative people develop films, games, participatory activities and much more. We have just opened the exhibition “Rainforest – the Canopy”. A huge team has designed an experience space in which our own responsibility for nature becomes clear. We have also created an exciting film series in which we present the research and the people behind it.

Creativity, like research, needs freedom above all. However, budget and resources can quickly set limits. Have you ever got lost or stuck when planning actions?

I have sometimes made decisions that scared myself. But I have also learned from minor mistakes to avoid major ones.

What would you describe as your greatest success?

Landing here at the Museum Koenig in 1994. But that wasn’t just success, it was also luck.

So this must have been your dream job from the start?

It developed into that. I was pretty haphazard at first. After my studies, I was involved in the “environmental counselling” course at the University of Bielefeld because I wanted to use my knowledge to protect the environment. Then I came across a completely outdated exhibition and thought that knowledge transfer had to be done differently.

What makes the LIB an excellent location?

The staff of the four centres are very well networked with each other, so that science and research can take place here at the highest level. Otherwise we wouldn’t be a Leibniz Institute! And we have a wonderful mix of creative people here.

What should I definitely not miss out on as a visitor to the Museum Koenig Bonn?

I would take every visitor to the giraffe. It is a constant in the museum and already stood in this place 75 years ago at the opening session of the Parliamentary Council, which took place in the museum’s atrium. It was here that the tasks for the drafting of the Basic Law were formulated. So the giraffe is a beautiful metaphor for the freedom of research.


Sabine Heine first obtained a diploma in biology in Münster in 1986, before helping to set up the environmental consultancy course at the University of Bielefeld. After a traineeship at the Westphalian Museum of Natural History in Münster, she finally moved to the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, now Museum Koenig Bonn, in 1994.


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