Focus

Humboldt Professor Sharon Macdonald

By Armin Himmelrath

Robots, cuneiform, bioinformatics, museums and aesthetics research – the Humboldt Professorship knows no disciplinary boundaries, only intriguing ideas and questions. To mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Germany's most valuable research award, KOSMOS spoke with several of the award winners about their experiences. In this report, we talk with the ethnologist Sharon Macdonald.

Sharon Macdonald
Sharon Macdonald (Photo: Humboldt Foundation / Sven Müller)

“Museums are extremely important for our societies because that is where people decide which things will play a role in the future,” says Sharon Macdonald in response to a question about her scientific interests. The British ethnologist investigates the criteria and decision- making processes that go into selecting objects and artefacts for exhibitions. 

“In this respect, Berlin, for me, is a fantastic laboratory of exciting things,” says Macdonald, commenting on her new home. Since she took up her Humboldt Professorship, one of the things she has been involved in is developing a strategy for the future Berlin Humboldt Forum. And she demonstrates exactly what good academic networking is all about: with her as the motor, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Museum für Naturkunde and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation are building a Centre for Heritage and Museum Research in Berlin. “Knowledge transfer has a lot to do with emotions and feelings, particularly in museums,” comments Sharon Macdonald.

published in Humboldt Kosmos 108/2018