A smart mind as an art object

Leibniz Memorial

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Leibniz Memorial (Photo: China Hopson).

The larger than life-sized bronze head at the south end of the Opera Square in the Georgstraße is a tribute to the significant philosopher and polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716).

The impressive, two and a half metres high and just a few centimetres wide bronze head with the visage of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz rests on a rectangular granite pedestal at the so called "Opera Triangle" (framed by Georgstraße, Georgsplatz and the street "An der Börse"). The Hannoverian architect and artist Stefan Schwerdtfeger designed the memorial in the style of an oversized paper cut.


The concept description about the Leibniz memorial gives some indication of the intention: The monument wants to remind of Leibniz by informing about him in layman's terms. Hannoverians and visitors of the city should "meet" the polymath unexpectedly and memorably. Thereby, a desirable identification should arise: Leibniz / Hannover - Hannover / Leibniz.

At eye level with a genius

Leibniz Memorial (Photo: China Hopson).

The huge likeness of Leibniz is quite an appearance. One side of the 750 kilo heavy head, manufactured by the Berlin image foundry Noack, shows the Leibniz quote "Unity in Multiplicity - unitas in multitudine". The other side shows the binary numerative system, developed by Leibniz, illustrated with the numbers 0 and 1 in a consecutive series.

Two rectangular information blocks next to the memorial give more information about the life of Leibniz and his binary numerative system as well as the infinitesimal calculus (also called analysis or calculation with endlessly small numbers). On one of the bronze boards it says (in German):

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 1646-1716
Hannovers großer Geist gilt weltweit als
bedeutender Universalgelehrter.
Der Philosoph, Mathematiker,
Naturwissenschaftler und Techniker
beeinflusste alle Wissenschaften. Seine
Gedanken und Erkenntnisse waren seiner
Zeit weit voraus. So legte er mit der
Differential- und Integralrechnung und
ihrer Schreibweise die Grundlage
heutiger Mathematik.

The illustration underneath shows an integral sign, written by Leibniz, and the Latin word (in the original handwriting by Leibniz and in block letters) "utile erit scribi ∫. pro omnia" ("it would be useful, ∫. instead of writing omnia"). On the other board it says (in German):

Das binäre System
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
(1646-1716) entwickelte die
Kunst, mit nur zwei Ziffern
zu rechnen: mit 0 und 1.
Nach diesem binären Prinzip
arbeiten unsere heutigen
Leibniz konzipierte auch eine
mechanische binäre Rechen-
maschine - wie zuvor schon
die erste dezimale Rechenmaschine
für alle vier Grundrechenarten.

Next to these lines, on the right side, there is an illustration with a binary sample calculation, originally by Leibniz.

Leibniz - a gift for Hannover

The Leibniz memorial was financed solely by private resources and is a gift to the city of Hannover and its citizens. A donor badge at the back of the memorial's socket informs about the renowned financiers:

Der Stadt Hannover zum Geschenk
In Erinnerung an ihren großen
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
S.K.H. Prinz Ernst August von Hannover
Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg
Fritz Behrens-Stiftung
Deutsche Bank Hannover
Sparda-Bank Hannover-Stiftung
BHF-BANK Hannover
Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge
CeBIT Hannover
Verlagsgesellschaft Madsack
Presse Club Hannover

On 27 November 2008, the Leibniz memorial on the boulevard between Aegidientorplatz and Kröpcke was ceremonioulsy inaugurated by Stephan Weil, the Lord Mayor at the time and today's Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. Together with him were the initiators (the journalists Friedrich Oehler and Hartmuth Schulz) and the sponsor of the project of the city of Hannover.