Bookshelf of the Week: Interior shot of the Humboldt-Universität

Interior shot Humboldt University. Picture credit: Jacqueline Poggi

For this week’s Bookshelf of the Week I chose this rather sumptuous shot of the interior of Berlin’s oldest university, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, as taken by Jacqueline Poggi.

To be more exact (and assuming my rudimentary German is up to scratch), the caption would suggest that this is a shot taken inside the Brothers Grimm Center, the university’s newest building (designed by Swiss architect Max Dudler), and the one which houses the university’s central library. (note: I’m somewhat doubtful though, because this staircase looks to have some age to it and it doesn’t seem to fit in with the overall architectural landscape of the library’s interior. Anyone?)

Regardless of the exact location of this shot, I adore it. Not only do the partially muted colours of the image as a whole highlight the palatial marble surroundings (and really bring out that luxurious gold bannister), but the bookshelves themselves only seem to add to the splendour and prestige – making the landing itself the real focal point of the shot.

A rather befitting tribute then to the glory of books. I thank Jacqueline both for taking the shot and for sharing it so generously.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. I don’t really like the picture but am sure that the place must be quite impressive when visited.
    Can’t help you Rob. The design and overall aspect seem indeed to be retro, but in my view could totally have been done recently (with a lot of money though) to correspond the Brothers Grimm’s stories’ creepiness.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      I agree that the picture isn’t the best Nick – indoors always tricky – but it’s certainly good enough to offer a sense of the awesomeness of the place.

      I also agree that this staircase ‘ensemble’ could have been constructed recently. The thing is it just doesn’t seem to fit in with the ultra-modern contemporary feel of the rest of the library, which makes me doubt that it’s part of it.
      Cheers Nick
      Rob

  2. This same university has a wonderful memorial to all the books that were burned by the Nazis. Humbolt was the site of a very famous, well-photographed book-burning, one of the key early ones in the 1930’s.

    The memorial is a large underground room filled with empty white bookcases. You view it from the outside by looking through portholes in the pavement of the walkways above it.

    Here’s a link to some pictures.

    http://www.house42.com/2008/10/21/book-burning-memorial-berlin/

  3. Love the shot – wonderful colors. Tried to get more info on the building from Google Images but came up dry.

    One things that’s puzzling is the gold lettering which the bookshelves seem to be covering up…

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Emm…I thought the gold lettering was just shelf markers Brian. But I see what you mean, especially on the off-centre to the right column. Maybe it’s more rounded than it looks and the angle of this shot makes it look as though some of the lettering is ‘missing’. *shrugs* 🙂
      Warmest
      Rob

  4. The photo is of the stairs inside the main entrance of the main building of the Humboldt University. The building was bombed out inside by 1945, and the stairs were rebuilt since then. There’s a quote in gold letters hidden by the “bookshelves,” it reads (in translation) : “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways, but the real point is to change it.” – Karl Marx. (The Humboldt was the center of East Germany’s university system — and state security system).

  5. I came across this page in search for photos of my beloved University from 1945. I spent quite some time there and if I would get a dollar for every time I ran up those stairs (or every hour I spent there waiting) – I’m sure I would come up fine 🙂

    However – there is no bookshelf. I doubt there ever was one. This looks almost photoshopped. It also doesn’t make sense to place a bookshelf there. There is nothing in close proximity that would make sense of a bookshelf. And there is plenty of space in he numerous libraries in the very same building to house zillions of books. (up the stairs and to the right, follow the floor and knock on the huge, last door at the end: The library of the archaeological faculty. One of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen.)

    Here is a picture how it looks and looked for the last 30 years. (or longer?)

    http://web191.srv7.sysproserver.de/hu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/image.axd_.jpeg

    Sven

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      This is fascinating Sven. Now you mention it, the photo does look a little doctored. I’ll look into this a litte further.
      Warmest
      Rob

  6. I am not sure if this is still of interest, but I agree with Sven: The bookshelve was shopped into the picture.
    Since I study at this university, I will be more than happy to take an up-to-date shot of the scene, if this is still of interest for you.

    Best wishes,
    Fabian

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      How extraordinary! I’d very much like you to take a new picture, Fabian! I then then put up an updated post.
      Warmest
      Rob