About the exhibition

Around the year 2000, it looked as if the secret of life might slowly but surely be revealed. Indeed, it seemed only a matter of time before our genetic makeup would be decoded by the Human Genome Project; and Dolly the sheep had been successfully cloned. For some, it meant that the ability to combat previously incurable diseases was now within reach; others felt that ominous science fiction scenarios were becoming reality. Has anything in this constellation changed since then?

Well, in recent decades, genetic research has yielded new knowledge and some fascinating new technologies, from the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome to the CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors and modern mRNA vaccines. While not all our future expectations have been fulfilled, these advances are certainly poised to shift our understanding of our origins, identity and health. And they are influencing the way we see the place of human beings in nature. So how critical do we need to be in our approach to these achievements and their possible repercussions? Is what is technically feasible also what is ethically acceptable? And has the danger of a racist instrumentalisation of genetics been banished forever? 

The exhibition ‘Of Genes and Human Beings’ took a serious and consistent look at the insights gained in science laboratories from the perspective of the social and cultural sciences: with exhibits from everyday life and science, culture and history, the approaches of contemporary art – and with interactive stations that invited us to find out for ourselves who we are and who we might become.