Staging, exhibiting and discussing possible futures: Framings of “innovation” at the Futurium Berlin

Karena Kalmbach (Futurium Berlin)

The Futurium in Berlin is a “House of Futures.” Here, everything revolves around the question: how do we want to live? In the exhibition, visitors can discover many possible futures; in the Forum, they can take part in open discussions; and, in the Futurium Lab, they can try out their own ideas. Staging, exhibiting and discussing possible futures highly relies on stories about “innovation”. It is therefore important to inquire what kinds of innovation and what kinds of drivers of innovation are brought to the fore in these storylines: social, cultural, scientific, or technical ones – or any kind of specific hybrids? What is presented as obstacles? And what factors, processes and dynamics are presented as accounting for good and desirable innovation? Analysing these storylines in the context of the Futurium is particularly interesting as there is certainly not one specific framing of innovation which is applied “a priori” to all of Futurium’s activities: The team of the Futurium is an interdisciplinary melting pot – which already makes for a wide variety of understandings of innovation. To this mashup, third parties involved in the setting-up of the exhibition and the execution of workshops add even more perspectives. Thus: what kind of framings of innovation does a visitor actually encounter when she explores this “House of Futures”? And is it possible for her to add her own framing of innovation to the already existing storylines? Ultimately, this presentation wants to find out whether we might indeed need permeable framings of innovation if we aim at open dialogues about possible, desirable futures.