Anniversary Exhibition: "100 Objects on the History of KIT"

200 Years of KIT History

In 2025, KIT will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Polytechnische Schule (polytechnic) in Karlsruhe on October 7, 1825. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Polytechnische Schule, which began small, quickly rose in ranks, became the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe. With the founding of the Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center) in 1956, close ties were quickly forged between the two research institutions. In 2009, the university and the research center merged to form the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

The 200-year anniversary offers a unique opportunity to look back on this development and uncover stories of both man and machine in research, teaching, and innovation.

An Exhibition in the Making

Preparations for a historical exhibition in the year 2025 have already begun at the KIT Archives. On the basis of objects, we aim to tell stories about KIT, its predecessor institutions, and the people who participated in its 200-year history. It is also of utmost importance for us to involve the members, alumni, and friends of KIT. Together, we hope to create a dialogue about how a history of KIT can be told and which objects can represent this history.

The question then arises: which objects tell the stories of KIT? Complex machines and apparatuses from experimental research or simplified models of academic teaching? Which objects embody innovations and their industrial application? Which objects actually tell the history of KIT: everyday office objects or building artefacts, works of art, or monuments?

Since, certainly, there are various perspectives on which the selection of objects can be based, the exhibition project relies on a Call for Objects to give the opportunity for participation and to develop diverse views on the history of KIT.

Successful „Call for Objects“!

We are very happy that we got so many submissions as a result of our Call for Objects. We thank all participants for their ideas! With 125 submissions but only 100 possible objects for the exhibit, finding the right choices will be hard. We are sure that there will still be many discussions until the exhibit is finalised.

Alterations Concerning the Project

After Dr. Anton Guhl left the exhibition team in June 2022, Andrea Stengel M.A. took over his task as curator of the exhibit. She has been curator of KIT’s art collection for many years and is in charge of KIT’s art in architecture projects.

The project plan has been finalized by now. It provides a digital exhibition, which will be complemented by 10 objects that will be shown on-site.

Idea and procedure of the Call for Objects

We asked you to be an active part of the creative process of our exhibition by proposing an object which, in your opinion, tells the history of KIT. This object did not have to represent 200 years, but should highlight the identity – grown through history – of KIT.

In order to classify your proposal, we requested you provide us with a short description of the object's significance, if possible together with a photo.

Object proposals were possible until March 31, 2022.

For the decision process we used the following criteria:

1000 Ideas, But Only One Exhibition – The Basics of Object Selection

The objects were selected in spring 2022 by the exhibition curator Dr. Anton F. Guhl and the Head of the KIT Archives, Dr. Klaus Nippert, together with an academic advisory board.

The selection of objects was made in three steps. First, it was decided if the object could be considered at all.  For example, factors such as conservation, cost, or size can determine whether or not an object can even be exhibited. 

In the second stage, the historical relevance of the object was examined based on current standards in higher education and academic history. This means that not only successful or "ingenious" objects were included. Objects from everyday life, from the "invisible hands" in research, teaching, and innovation, or from a time when the standards held high today could not be achieved, were also of historical significance. In addition, we considered the narrative power of the object – some of the objects held surprises that were only apparent at second glance.

In the third stage, the objects were evaluated in relation to one another. We did not ask which object was "more exciting" on its own, but with which ensemble of objects the history of KIT could ideally be told. The aim was to depict important periods in the history of KIT and to show KIT in its institutional diversity of over 200 years. Finally, it was important to create material diversity – for example, (paper) documents are only suitable in exceptional cases for an exhibition that is intended to appeal to a broad audience.


Selection process


Selection Levels

Selection Criteria

Stage 1

Single object

1. Feasibility

Stage 2

Single object

2. Historical relevance

Single object

3. Originality of story/stories

Stage 3

Object ensemble

4. Coverage of particularly important historical phases

Object ensemble

5. Distribution over the entire KIT and its predecessor institutions

Object ensemble

6. Temporal distribution over 200 years

Object ensemble

7. Material diversity of the objects


Project Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth

Prof. Dr. Gisela Hürlimann

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Logge

Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow

Prof. Dr. Dieter Speck

Prof. Dr. Helmuth Trischler



MA Andrea Stengel
Curator Anniversary Exhibition "100 Objects on the History of KIT"

+49 721 608-45430andrea stengel does-not-exist.kit edu

Kaiserstraße 12

76131 Karlsruhe

MA Andrea Stengel
Kuratorin Ausstellungsprojekt "100 Objekte zur Geschichte des KIT"

+49 721 608-45430andrea stengel does-not-exist.kit edu

Kaiserstraße 12

76131 Karlsruhe