The Foundation Welt der Versuchungen is the initiator of a new exhibition centre that is situated at the intersection of science and art. It focuses on temptations old and new and addictions – from drugs to social media – in order to illuminate them from the perspective of related scientific fields, such as health research, and from the arts. The new house is thus pursuing an innovative approach to addiction prevention.
The German Bundestag has enabled this project with 15 million euros. It is also supported by grants from the Thuringian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family and has been developed in cooperation with the Prevention Centre of the addiction support services in Thuringia. The task of addiction prevention is to help people to become mature and to lead healthy and free lives. The question of how this undertaking can succeed has still not been clearly answered.
As a living space, the exhibition centre takes an interdisciplinary approach. This collaboration between artists and experts from different disciplines will result in a transitory gathering of minds that does not abolish disciplinary boundaries entirely, but perhaps sets them aside for a brief, productive moment.
This in turn creates new connections and opens up previously unknown prospects for the future. Light and shadow are illuminated: On the one hand, the longing for a change of consciousness, boundless freedom or simply the desire to get one’s life back; on the other, a search for thrills and the compulsion that goes with it.
The focus is on themes such as consumption and loss of control, as well as mindfulness, health and identity. Exhibitions and programmes explore these issues from both a historical and contemporary perspective in the contexts of society, science and art. They invite people of all ages to reflect and enable spontaneous encounters across all social groups.
The exhibitions are accompanied by education programmes and tailored to the respective target groups. These programmes include visual and practical workshops – the results of which could include writing a rap, comic or video – lectures and debates, concerts and performances, as well as further training for multipliers.
Addiction has been a social issue for decades and is still critical today. The consumption of tobacco and alcohol was curbed prior to the coronavirus pandemic through a series of measures. Nevertheless, in Germany as in other countries, more and more addictive substances – legal and illegal – are becoming more readily available. Demand is increasing across all levels of society. Behavioural addictions such as eating, gambling and shopping addictions now play an equally significant role as workaholism or social-media addiction.
The question follows: what happens in our brains and bodies during intoxication? With all addictive substances and actions, neurotransmitters in the brain ensure a change in consciousness and thus control our behaviour. When the reward and pleasure centres are activated, we feel happy and satisfied. And who among us is not in search of feelings of happiness and well-being?
When does an evening glass of wine, shopping, one’s eating habits or being online become pathological? When does the high turn into a crash? And are there alternatives to a feeling of happiness without the occasional blues? How can the desire for intoxication without risk be integrated into our lives? And where do the terms ‘addiction’, ‘longing’, ‘seeking’ and ‘temptation’ intersect? These questions are complex and motivate people young and old to find answers.
The theme of this exhibition centre concerns (almost) all of us. An honest and intergenerational discourse has been opened – in Erfurt, in Thuringia and beyond Germany.
Dr Susanne Rockweiler, Chief Executive Director
With the Erfurt City Council’s decision on a location, permitting the construction of a new building in the centre of Thuringia’s capital, the Foundation Welt der Versuchungen has reached another milestone in realising its initiative to create an innovative exhibition centre. The centrally located Huttenplatz is a fitting site for creating the modern and sustainable building that will house the exhibition centre in future. “With Huttenplatz we have found a place in Erfurt that is centrally located. A modern exhibition centre here at this site enhances the image of this area as a portal to the city centre,” said Erfurt’s mayor Andreas Bausewein at the foundation’s press conference on 13 February 2023.
Architecturally – but also in terms of content – the centre made possible by the federal government and supported by the Thuringia’s Ministry of Work, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family has entered into its implementation phase. Its opening is planned for the autumn of 2026.
“Temptations loom large – particularly in our consumerist society. We are all subject to this pressure, which leads people to reach for the bottle or other drugs and become unable to maintain control of them,” says Carsten Schneider, Minister of State and Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Germany. “This foundation will set new standards in the field of addiction prevention in Germany.”
The centre devotes attention to the theme of health and addiction in a new way. Content is developed in an interdisciplinary process, with scientists and artists thinking it through together – a concept that has never been seen before in Germany or Europe. With the federal government, the state of Thuringia and the city of Erfurt, the Foundation Welt der Versuchungen has three strong partners at its side as it realises of this model project.
The goal of the Foundation Welt der Versuchungen is to create a centre that will examine the theme of addiction in a multi-perspectival way, continuously provide surprises and deal with current issues in a cutting-edge manner. It will offer new possibilities for reflecting on addiction and living well and for initiating debates about these topics – among young people, in families, in schools and among experts.
“We have to thematise the social problem of addiction in order to be able to reach society in a preventative, integrative and interactive sense. A centre like this can make it possible to successfully launch a new societal discussion about drugs and addiction as well as intoxication and health consequences. The ‘Welt der Versuchungen’ is a catalyst for advancing the development of addiction prevention in Germany,” emphasises Burkhard Blienert, the Federal Government’s Drug and Addiction Commissioner.
Thuringia’s Minister of Health Heike Werner adds: “It’s all about doing addiction prevention that has lasting effects. The ‘Welt der Versuchungen’ will form an important building block in this context – with the distinctive feature that it’s a genuinely innovative concept.”
First Exhibition in the Autumn
The Foundation Welt der Versuchungen has also been able to move a step further in terms of developing its formats for presenting content. Until the new centre opens, they will be showing one smaller-format exhibition per year: these will help the exhibition organisers to learn which content works well and can be transferred to the centre.
The first exhibition, “On a Night Trip”, can be seen from 20 October to 10 December 2023 in the “Defensionskaserne” on Erfurt’s Petersberg hill. It looks at nightlife, and the contrast provided by this foil is used to better reveal how we function in our everyday lives. Susanne Rockweiler, Chief Curator of the Foundation Welt der Versuchungen points out: “Concerts, clubs and parties are longed-for sites for shared experiences of music and with music. They are free and creatives spaces and sites of emancipation. ‘On a Night Trip’ examines nightlife as a collective experience. Scene, sound and image also explore its diverse societal, social and aesthetic links in the context of ecstasy, identity/identities, resilience and safer clubbing. They launch a discussion about health in the context of partying and the ability to consume responsibly in the middle of society: new, surprising, experimental.”
1) Speakers at the “Welt der Versuchungen” Foundation’s press conference (l to r): Carsten Schneider, Minister of State and Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Germany; Dr Susanne Rockweiler, Chief Curator of the “Welt der Versuchungen” Foundation; Heike Werner, Thuringian Minister of Health; Burkhard Blienert, the Federal Government’s Drug and Addiction Commissioner; Frank Sonnabend, initiator of the “Defensionskaserne”; Andreas Bausewein, Mayor of Erfurt; and Thomas Bader, Chairman of the Foundation Board
2) Members of the media at the press conference
3) (L to R) Burkhard Blienert, the Federal Government’s Drug and Addiction Commissioner; Heike Werner, Thuringian Minister of Health; Dr Susanne Rockweiler, Chief Curator of the “Welt der Versuchungen” Foundation; Carsten Schneider, Minister of State and Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Germany; and Andreas Bausewein, Mayor of Erfurt, at the press conference about the location of the new exhibition centre in Erfurt, viewing the first architectural designs for the centre, which were created by children, school pupils and university students
4) Panel of speakers at the press conference
The Foundation Welt der Versuchungen celebrated its establishment in Erfurt, the state capital of Thuringia, on 28 March 2022. This marked a milestone on the path to realising the exhibition centre. The Foundation Welt der Versuchungen is the initiator of a new exhibition centre at the interface between science and art. It is dedicated to old and new temptations and addictions – from drugs to social media – and will explore them from different angles.
The federal and state governments have joined forces in response to this important socio-political issue: the exhibition centre will receive 15 million euros from the German Bundestag as well as support from the Thuringian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family. It is being developed in cooperation with “Suchthilfe in Thüringen”, a charitable organisation offering addiction and prevention services.
Health researchers, prevention experts and artists will be thinking about themes surrounding the “world of temptations” together. This offers new possibilities for reflecting on addiction and living well as well as for initiating debates. The combination creates potential for bringing different target groups on board and building bridges – between the individual fields of research and the art forms of music, visual art, dance, and film.
Carsten Schneider, Member of Parliament, Minister of State
Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Germany
[…] Prevention and education about the dangers of addiction continuously demand cutting-edge answers. In this context addictive behaviour is not just a medical or psychological problem, it is a continual challenge facing society as a whole. This is precisely why the emerging “Haus der Versuchungen” – with its new, open and multi-perspectival approach – offers a great chance to establish a pioneering addiction-prevention pilot project in Erfurt that will influence the entire country. […]
Heike Werner, Minister
Thuringian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family
With the “Welt der Versuchungen” Centre, Thuringia is to become home to a cognitive and experiential world that is the only one of its kind in Europe, enabling a broad target audience to acquaint themselves with the theme of addiction in an interdisciplinary and modern manner. By linking together addiction prevention, health promotion, science and art, the Foundation Welt der Versuchungen is striking out on historic new paths in addiction prevention. It is thus a pleasure for me to be able to accompany and support this exceptional project as Thuringia’s Minister of Health.
Katharina Schenk, Principal Secretary
Thuringian Ministry of the Interior and Local Affairs
[…] As a cognitive and experiential world which engages with individual people’s lived realities, interactively inviting them to use it to inform themselves and reflect, the project breaks with numerous antiquated taboos from the field of addiction prevention. In the end – and this is the decisive point – it strengthens the ability of citizens, young and old, to consume and take risks responsibly. I am particularly proud of the fact that, here in Thuringia, we were able to launch such an innovative and unique beacon project, which will draw attention from throughout Germany. […]
Thomas Bader, Chairman of the Foundation Board
[…] The operation of a project like this should be managed through an independent body. A foundation seemed like the appropriate form to us. The “Welt der Versuchungen” Foundation now serves as the organisation responsible for managing this concept’s realisation and for shaping complex enquiries into addictions, new and old, as well as a healthy and free life into exhibitions that convey knowledge and simultaneously inspire, surprise and repeatedly spark fresh curiosity. […]
Addiction prevention and preventative healthcare face particularly great challenges in an era hallmarked by change and the coronavirus pandemic. In times of such health burdens on society, it is essential for addiction prevention to offer particularly effective and attractive services.
Addiction prevention should help to change and stabilise people’s behaviour in such a way that they can return to alternative ways of behaving, especially in critical life situations. Effective prevention techniques should generally be invisible and established in our everyday living environment.
The question of how this can be done effectively has been addressed for many years by the staff at the prevention centre of SiT – Addiction Support in Thuringia – on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family. In this context, the idea arose to address citizens about addiction and health in new ways and to create a forum for encounters and dialogue that arouse their curiosity.
A visit to the German Emigration Centre in Bremerhaven sparked the fuse that led to the idea of developing attractive places and services for addiction prevention. Why shouldn't we dare to think bigger and beyond the usual in our work?! Why shouldn't there also be a house for addiction prevention and dealing with addictions, a place where visitors can actively experience and learn new things?
We conducted the professional discourse with our Thuringian partners in addiction support, the Thuringian Ministry of Health, the state offices for addiction prevention, addiction support and health promotion, the Finder Academy Berlin and the ginko Foundation for prevention in Mühlheim an der Ruhr as well as the nationwide addiction self-help network. There was consultation, discussion, philosophising and construction, and we finally landed on an idea for this overdue step in a new direction.
Ultimately, we had a vision in 2017: All focal points of addiction prevention should be reflected in this house, e.g. alcohol and tobacco prevention, "addiction in old age", prevention of addiction in companies, pathological gambling, excessive media behaviour, self-help, etc.
It would be possible for new materials and methods developed on a statewide or national scale to be adopted promptly and by different target groups (kindergartens, schools, parents, anyone interested in the topic, companies...).
We imagined the following programmes:
The Experience House as an opportunity for all visitors to gain knowledge and participate; should take on a special position in the museum landscape as an innovative place of exploration and mediation.
But what use are all the good concepts in the world without basic funding?
What great luck it was then that we were able to convince Carsten Schneider, now Minister of State, Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Germany and Erfurt Member of the Bundestag, as well as Heike Werner, Thuringia’s Minister of Health, of our idea. They were the ones who created the financial basis for the idea of the exhibition centre that would become 'Welt der Versuchungen'.
At this point, we would like to express our immense gratitude to all those who are committed to and inspired by the 'Welt der Versuchungen'.
Katrin Schnell, Head of the Prevention Centre for Addiction Support in Thuringia
The non-profit foundation 'Welt der Versuchungen' is the initiator of an innovative project. Its approach is to combine addiction prevention, health promotion and the arts in a new exhibition space. In this way, the foundation seeks to address as many people as possible, reach them in their very different worlds and draw them in with music, visual art or powerful installations which invite discussion and self-reflection. The aim is to break down clichés in order to enable an honest approach to the topic.
The exhibition concept goes hand in hand with cultural education work that addresses different target groups. The visitors – regardless of age – are invited to become active themselves. After the tour of the exhibition, visitors can respond to what they have seen and experienced in their own works. For school classes, special visual and practical workshops are offered. Participants can create drawings, sculptures, raps or comics. Furthermore, the house will offer lectures, discussions, readings and concerts, as well as further training for multipliers. The intention here is for the exhibition to become a special, open space for sociopolitical debates on the topics of addiction and intoxication at the interface of science and art.
The Foundation has a Foundation Board. It currently consists of five individuals from different disciplines – such as addiction prevention, health management or cultural education.
An advisory board is being set up to provide scientific support for the exhibition house.
Dr Susanne Rockweiler, Chief Executive Director
Dr Susanne Rockweiler
First Board Member | Chief Curator
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 31
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 36
Administration | Board Office
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 30
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 34
PR and Marketing Officer
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 32
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 30
Social Media Assistant
Phone: +49 361 - 30 25 79 32
f.l.t.r. 1. row:
Marieluise Hörner (Student assistant),
Susn Kuchenreuther (Administration)
f.l.t.r. 2. row:
Thomas Bader (Chairman of the Foundation Board),
Denise Seifert (Project development),
Dr. Susanne Rockweiler (First Board Member, Chief Curator),
David Fritzlar (Second Board Member, Management Suchthilfe in Thüringen),
Katrin Schnell (Vice Chairwoman of the Foundation Board, Head of the SiT Präventionszentrum)