1998-2007

Upheaval in the era of terrorism

The events of the 11th of September 2001 have a fundamental impact on the Goethe-Institut’s activities: The attacks in the USA raise the world’s awareness of the importance of intercultural dialogue and understanding. From then on, Goethe-Institut activities increasingly focus on strengthening civil society and preventing conflict. During this period, numerous national European cultural institutions join to form the EUNIC network to work together on strengthening cultural diversity.  

1998

Closing the Goethe-Institut Reykjavík
A Viking funeral

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1998

Closing the Goethe-Institut Reykjavík
A Viking funeral

When austerity measures force the closure of the Goethe-Institut Reykjavík, it receives a true Viking send-off – and hundreds of Icelanders gather to pay their respects with tears in their eyes.

Since the Goethe-Institut has had to accept a reduction in public funding since German reunification and has also suffered losses in its own funds, red ink means cuts have to be made somewhere, and Iceland is the victim in 1998. Iceland, of all places, where German numbers among the most beloved foreign languages. The president of Iceland, the bishop and prominent business leaders all sign an open letter to the German Foreign Office protesting the closure, to no avail. In keeping with Viking traditions, a life-size statue of Goethe is interred off the coast of Iceland, and artist Wolfgang Müller protests in true, artistic style: In the Living Art Museum in the Icelandic capital, he creates an installation consisting of a desk, a pot plant, and telephone that still rings every time someone dials the former institute’s number.

2001

The Goethe-Institut merges with Inter Nationes. Founded in Bonn in 1952, the association’s mission was to create and disseminate informational material about German cultural heritage abroad.

2004

The German-French Cultural Center opens in Ramallah
Working together for more tolerance

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2004

The German-French Cultural Center opens in Ramallah
Working together for more tolerance

Together with the Institut Franais, the Goethe-Institut opens the first German-French Cultural Center at the political heart of the Palestinian Territories. Along with language courses, the center houses a library and hosts cultural events, serving as a model of cooperation and understanding in the region.

The Goethe-Institut has increased its activities in crisis regions in recent years with the goal of promoting tolerance and mutual understanding through culture and education. The German-French Cultural Center is the first port of call for any resident of West Jordan, Eastern Jerusalem or Gaza interested in learning French or German today. Along with language courses, the center features a multi-lingual library and a German-French library on wheels for children and young adults (“Bibliobus”) and organizes a range of cultural events. Funded by cultural broadcaster Arte and the European Union as part of EUNIC Palestine, the center promotes close ties with Europe. In June 2021, the first German-French Cultural Institute (DFKI) based on the Aachen Treaty opens in Italian Palermo under the name “Kultur Ensemble”.

2005

Unknown parties storm the Goethe-Institut Lomé, shoot at the guards and set the building on fire. No one is injured, but the ground floor of the institute in Togo burns completely.

Jutta Limbach, then president of the Goethe-Institut, accepts the award on October 21 in Oviedo.   Photo: FPA

2005

Goethe-Institut receives the Prince of Asturias Award
An ambassador for Europe

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2005

Goethe-Institut receives the Prince of Asturias Award
An ambassador for Europe

The Goethe-Institut’s activities and objectives now go far beyond teaching German. For its exceptional efforts in conveying “the culture as well as the humanitarian and democratic values of Europe”, it receives the 2005 Prince of Asturias Award along with five other major European cultural institutes.

Former recipients include Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and the UN Refugee Committee: Every year, the Spanish heir to the throne honours individuals and institutions that serve as examples of international cooperation and understanding with the Prince of Asturias Award. The Goethe-Institut receives the prize in the Communication and Humanities category together with the British Council, the Spanish Instituto Cervantes, the Italian Società Dante Alighieri, the Alliance Franaise and the Portuguese Instituto Cames. The institutes are European ambassadors to the world, the then Crown Prince and now King Felipe says in his laudation.

Henry Tan & Partners perform at the Colomboscope Art Festival in Colombo, initiated by the Goethe-Institut and the British Council and funded by EUNIC since 2015. Photo: Ruvin de Silva

2006

Founding of the EUNIC network
United for Europe

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2006

Founding of the EUNIC network
United for Europe

National cultural institutes and organisations around Europe come together to form the “European Union National Institutes for Culture” (EUNIC), a network dedicated to strengthening European cooperation through cultural outreach.

In 2006, six international, European cultural organizations, including the Goethe-Institut as a founding member, join forces in Brussels. By 2021, the EUNIC network comprises 38 members from all EU member states. They work closely together, especially through their international locations, organizing joint events and projects in art, education and intercultural dialogue in more than 100 countries. EUNIC’s mission is to use cultural relations to build trust and understanding between people in Europe and the whole world.

2007

Germany introduces a language requirement for granting residents’ spouses a family reunification visa. The domestic dimension that has always been inherent in the work of the Goethe-Institut is now particularly evident.

2008­2021


Focus on Africa and Digital Transformation

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