Kunstformen Finissage

Haeckel, evolution and human-animal hybrids

23 Nov 2014

On Sunday November 23rd we opened up the Kunstformen Der Natur exhibition for one final day. Not only was this your last chance to visit the extraordinary exhibition but we also invited Constance Sommerey and Koen Beumer talk about Haeckel, evolution and human-animal hybrids. (Did you know that in 1920 they actually tried to mate humans with apes?!) After the talks it was time to wrap up the exhibition. Literally. Together with the audience we took the posters down and transferred the exhibition to our homes.

** This event was free for Public members


A man gets a little helping hand with his poster. - A small fellow helps rolls the Haeckel poster up. Amy Claire Elizabeth Galbraith


13:00 - Doors open exhibition.
14:30 - 16:00 Constance Sommerey and Koen Beumer
16:00 - 20:00 Demontage Finissage with music by Kyll Kenn

Illegal Science

German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, whose amazing Kunstformen have been displayed at Mediamatic for the past two months, was one of the most passionate propagators of evolution in the mid-nineteenth century. Ever since Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has spawned controversy. We will use this closing event as an opportunity to address some of these controversies. Haeckel-expert Constance Sommerey will reconstruct the history of how Haeckel’s unencumbered belief in human animal descent and the refutation of the biblical Genesis eventually led to a ban of the entire subject of biology from German secondary schools in 1882. Sociologist of science Koen Beumer will then show how ideas about evolution have also caused a great deal of debate in research by discussing controversial studies into human-animal hybrids.


Constance and Koen - Constance Sommery and Koen Beumer in front of a beautiful Haeckel poster. Amy Claire Elizabeth Galbraith

Constance Sommerey is a lecturer and PhD candidate at Maastricht University where she studies Haeckel’s rhetoric of evolution and its reverberations in German biology textbooks published in the first six decades of the twentieth century. She is interested in the representation of scientific theories through time.


Constance answers a question. - Constance Sommerey answers a question about Haeckel. Amy Claire Elizabeth Galbraith

Koen Beumer is lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a PhD candidate at Maastricht University where he studies technologies in developing countries. He is interested in human-animal relations and frequently writes about biology for sciencepalooza.nl.


Koen answers a question. - Koen Beumer answers a question from the audience. Amy Claire Elizabeth Galbraith

With: Koen Beumer

First Pick

Help us break down the exhibition by buying one of the hanging posters on November 23.
Ensure you get your favorite poster and come by Mediamatic Fabriek to buy and reserve your first pick for only €20,00. The poster itself can be taken down during the closing event from 16:00-18:00. After 16:00 on the 23rd the posters will drop dramatically in price from only €10,00 (from 16:00 - 18:00) to a staggering €5,00 (after 18:00)!


Taking down a poster - A man takes down his favourite Haeckel poster at the Kunstformen Finnisage. Amy Claire Elizabeth Galbraith

If your poster is taken, no worries: we can still print you a brand new one for 40 euros. You can order them at the information desk until the 20th of November.


We also have some wearable Haeckel for sale. We created 3 special Kunstformen t-shirt designs. Unixex, black and white and in 4 different sizes. €27,00 each.


Kunstformen Closing Finissage
Sunday November 23rd, 13:00 - 20:00
Mediamatic Fabriek, VOC-kade 10, Amsterdam

Tickets: €5,00 for a 9 week Mediamatic Membership
After 16:00 for free.

Note: You yourself will be responsible for taking down and shipping the poster. All posters that are not picked up by 18:00 will go back in sale. It is not possible to reserve a poster by