The brain has been studied for centuries. But despite the ever new discoveries about the “control center”, mysteries remain: what about the soul, about consciousness? The brain is a “very airtight affair”, as Henriette Pleiger says. Such an “unlimited theme” was a big challenge for her and the other two curators of the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn.

This is why the new exhibition “The brain. In Art and Science” was designed around five simple questions: What do I have in mind? How can I imagine the processes in the brain? Are me and my body the same? How do I create my world? And: Should I optimize my brain?

The result was “a wild mix”, says Pleiger. Along with brain and neurology research, the show discusses philosophy, religion, the history of medicine, and psychology. And art also intervenes “massively”, according to the curator. “What we want to create are the cross-connections, the neural connections, so to speak, between the disciplines.”

You don’t need strong nerves for the show, Pleiger points out. There was nothing “bloodthirsty”. Human preparations were deliberately avoided. Instead, models from the history of medicine and anatomical drawings, for example, could tell a lot about the story of the discovery of the brain. Among them are real “scientific pearls” such as the first drawings of nerve cells by future Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal.