Since its foundation in 1715, the city of Karlsruhe has been at the forefront of innovation in various fields, such as urban planning, technological research, IT and media art. The timeline presents an overview of the most important milestones from the city’s long history and, from 2019, especially in relation to the events as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.

2021 - 2030


In 2023, the dm-Award “connecting worlds” will be announced for the first time, thus defining a new format for the SCHLOSSLICHTSPIELE. The prize will be awarded to an outstanding project that takes the project mappings form the Palace façade out into the city center and connects analogue and digital space. 

In September 2023, the Jazz Club Karlsruhe opens in the former ‘Kurbel’.

Start of the international exchange program “Karlsruhe X Cali”. As part of the City-to-City-program of the Media Arts Cities, two media artists are supported for a stay in Karlsruhe and Cali with the aim of conceiving and producing a work of media art in international collaboration. 

Alistair Hudson replaces Peter Weibel as scientific-artistic director at ZKM | Karlsruhe. 

Peter Weibel, scientific-artistic director and media-artistic pioneer of the ZKM | Karlsruhe, dies at the age of 78.

Jonas Denzel’s “Ballet of the Cities” travels to the Romanian Creative City on the occasion of the inauguration of Temeswar as Capital of Culture and can be seen for three days in the urban space.



The department of cultural affairs and the ZKM | Karlsruhe are showing six media art projects on the occasion of the general assembly of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Karlsruhe. The presentations provide a stimulating overview of innovative media art and insight into new thought spaces.

At the XI. annual conference of the UCCN in Brazil, Karlsruhe presents itself for the first time as a member of the UNESCO Creative City Network Media Arts Cluster. The conference is attended by 100 international cities. 

From May to October, the Passagehof and Nördliche Karlstraße will be transformed into two living laboratories as part of “Platz für mehr”. The redistribution of street space will create room for new activity areas. The aim is to create new mobility practices and usage scenarios and to enhance the urban space by removing cars and throug-traffic in general and creating new opportunities for seating, gastronomy and the presentation of media art. 

Under the title “Media Art is Here”, the UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts and the ZKM | Karlsruhe are showing media art installations in public spaces. 


As an active measure to strengthen the international exchange of artists during the coronavirus crisis, the Media Arts Cluster is launching the “City to City” project. 

This fall, the BB Bank Award in Project Mapping will be announced for the first time. The award is aimed towards national and international artists and offers the opportunity to receive funding for the realization of a project for the main program of the SCHLOSSLICHTSPIELE.

The renovation and expansion of the Baden State Theatre is approved. A complete refurbishment is planned, which is to last in three construction phases up to and including 2037.

2010 – 2020


During the first Corona summer, the SCHLOSSLICHTSPIELE are breaking new ground and presenting themselves exclusively in digital format.


Seasons of Media Arts of the ZKM and the City of Karlsruhe exhibiting media artworks in the Karlsruhe urban area started up.

As part of Karlsruhe’s inclusion in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, the City of Karlsruhe is providing a new project funding program for media art worth €100,000.

The City of Karlsruhe has been awarded the title of UNESCO City of Media Arts and is a member of the worldwide UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). As a well connected city of media art, Karlsruhe supports the local media art scene both in the context of project funding and with presentations and events, as well as collaborations at an international level. 

© Presseamt Stadt Karlsruhe, Foto: Roland Fräkle.

The FUX Consolidation and Expansion Centre was opened as an extension to the Alter Schlachthof complex with a further 3,300 square metres, including conference and seminar rooms as well as coworking spaces for creative companies

© Presseamt Stadt Karlsruhe, Foto: Roland Fräkle.

The 70th anniversary of the Grundgesetz (Constitution) was celebrated with the VerfassungsFEST in Karlsruhe.

A Bundestag resolution cleared the way for the emergence of the Forum Recht on the premises of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, which was initiated by a parliamentary initiative. The rule of law is to be presented for citizens in the forum.


In the context of the Digitale Zukunftskommune @ bw competition, the city of Karlsruhe was presented an award for its concept for the digital@KA multifunctional app by the state of Baden-Württemberg.

The Landeszentrum für Musikjournalismus und Musikinformatik (State Centre for Music Journalism and Music Informatics) at Karlsruhe Academy of Music was started up.

The Autonomous Driving Baden-Württemberg (TAF BW) test field, a project of Baden-Württemberg research institutions, municipalities and the state government, was started up.


The Hertz Laboratory was established as a transdisciplinary research and development platform at the interface of media arts, science and society with the merger of the Institute for Visual Media and the Institute for Music and Acoustics at the ZKM.

The City of Karlsruhe created the Office for Information Technology and Digitisation to bundle IT functions and areas of responsibility and to make better use of the opportunities offered by digitisation

© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Foto: Jonas Zilius.

The innovative exhibition project Open Codes at the ZKM was developed and still continues today. It enables collaboration and co-creation and invites visitors to take part in an open exchange in an ever-changing environment that is accessible free of charge and is very similar to the actual living and working environment.

© KME Karlsruhe Marketing und Event GmbH, Foto: jowapress.de.

Premiere der India Summer Days, die sich aus dem Stand heraus zu einem der größten Indien-Festivals in Deutschland entwickeln.

As one of twelve competence locations, Karlsruhe was nominated by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) as a digital hub. The Karlsruhe Digital Hub builds on the region’s growing expertise in software technology and relies on the joint research activities of established players and ambitious founders.

According to EU’s Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2017, Karlsruhe is one of Europe’s leading cities with between 250,000 and 500,000 inhabitants (2nd place). Karlsruhe is also among the top 5 GAMES locations in Germany in 2017.

2000 – 2010


© Magic Sky GmbH.

Every second year the EFFEKTE science festival presents highlights from science and research with science comedy, lectures, panel discussions, science slams and stage shows. EFFEKTE is organized by the Karlsruhe Wissenschaftsbüro.

Karlsruhe attends the CODE_n new.New Festival with numerous partners. Various exhibits on art, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet of Things and IT security are symbolic of Karlsruhe’s diversity, creativity and expertise.

© Theaterhaus, Foto: Jürgen Schurr.

The Marotte Figure Theatre, the Jacobus Theatre and the Sandkorn Theatre collectively formed the Theaterhaus.

The Karlsruhe Zoo initiated its own species protection foundation to promote worldwide species protection through the conservation of biological diversity. The foundation is closely linked to the Karlsruhe Zoo and promotes measures that serve animal welfare, environmental protection, education, science and research.

The karlsruhe.digital initiative was created in cooperation with 11 working groups, over 25 institutions and over 50 companies from the digital sector. The joint vision is to make Karlsruhe the engine of digitisation and a pioneer in digital topics.

Karlsruhe took first place in the Morgenstadt City Index, which measures the sustainability of a city.


© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Foto: Fidelius Fuchs.

Especially for the 300th anniversary of the city of Karlsruhe, the ZKM organized a new artistic event: GLOBALE. Laboratory and academy in one, it illustrates the decisive artistic, social and scientific tendencies of the 21st century with exhibitions, concerts, performances and symposia.


© Leandro Erlich Studio.

As part of the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding, The city is the star was an exhibition that presented construction site art, which aesthetically accompanies and reflects the extensive traffic engineering construction measures in Karlsruhe.

The Selbstbestimmt.digital non-profit association was set up. It is especially committed to freedom and human rights in the digital space and questions the digitisation of extensive aspects of  everyday-life. The core concern of the association is digital empowerment to enable people to participate actively and critically in shaping the digitisation processes in the 21st century.

© KA300, Foto: Michael Kneffel.

The first Schlosslichtspiele Karlsruhe (Palace Light Festival) took place as part of the 300th anniversary of the city’s birth and the ZKM festival, GLOBALE. More than one million people have since already visited the spectacle in front of the 170-metre baroque palace façade.


© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Foto: Felix Grünschloss.

As part of Code for Germany, a program of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, OK Lab Karlsruhe was launched. It is one of eight Open Knowledge Labs in Germany. Its goal is to promote developments in the areas of transparency, Open Data and Civic Tech in Germany. The monthly Code for Karlsruhe Meetup offers a variety of projects, such as lectures, discussions and handicraft workshops.

In cooperation with Freifunk Rheinland e.V. and Entropia e.V. Freifunk, a joint movement was launched in Karlsruhe. It considers free, equally usable network access to be a social cornerstone. The Verein zur Förderung freier Netze Region Mittler Oberrhein e.V. (Association for the Promotion of Free Networks in the Middle Upper Rhine Region) and StuFFNet, a free-radio university group at KIT, were founded in 2017.


The ZeitGenuss festival was launched as a cooperation between the State University of Music Karlsruhe and the Cultural Office of the City of Karlsruhe. It focuses on the composer’s work and involves musicians and independent ensembles from Karlsruhe as well as ensembles, teachers and students of the university.

The augmented-history app, Stadtgeist Karlsruhe, was developed as part of the city’s SmarterCity Initiative. It presents a wide range of stories that revolve around Karlsruhe in one way or another. The concept of the app received the German AppCampus Award 2013.

The Karlsruher Wochen gegen Rassismus (Weeks against racism), a series of cultural events with an explicit socio-political mandate, now takes place annually.

© PerfectFutur/Karlsruher Fächer GmbH, Foto: Matthias Kapica.

The Pefekt Futur start-up centre was opened on the Alter Schlachthof site.

© DokKa, Foto: Karolina Sobel.

The DokKa association was founded. Presentations of current works and an annual documentary festival are held in Karlsruhe to bring both local structures and filmmakers, artists and authors from all German-speaking countries into contact with each other.


Students of the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe (Academy of Music) set up the Digitale Kunstfabrik e.V. to work together on projects in the field of experimental electronic music, as well as to promote digital art, music and its culture in the Karlsruhe area through concerts, club evenings, workshops and lectures and to establish international collaborations with artists.

As one of the country’s most important meetings for the application of play-typical elements, the bizplay one-day congress is now dedicated each year to the Gamification and Game Design topics, as well as their impact on economics, culture and society.

Netzstrategen (network strategists), a team of specialists and experts on various topics who work together in an interdisciplinary manner, began to accompany and support companies in all phases of digital transformation to enable them to act digitally. They have organized the hallo.digital annual conference since 2017.


Karlsruhe hosted the world’s first international 3D festival, BEYOND.

Karlsruhe was officially accepted as a member of the EUROCITIES network of major European cities.


The tenants of the Alter Schlachthof complex set up ausgeschlachtet e.V., a cross-disciplinary association of cultural institutions, companies from the creative industries, artists, artist organizations and independent cultural bodies located on the grounds of the complex.


The Karlsruhe Forum für Kultur, Recht und Technologie brings together leading institutions of the Karlsruhe technology region. Its aim is to promote social discourse on the future of our society in the fields of technical sciences, law and culture.


The MEKA – Medienregion Karlsruhe e.V. initiative is being launched to strengthen the region and network local creators.


Representatives of the University of Karlsruhe and the Karlsruhe Research Centre signed the founding agreement of their merger under the name Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), which is Germany’s largest research centre with around 9,000 employees and 25,000 students.

Karlsruhe became a member of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) and since then has been a member of the steering committee. In 2015 Karlsruhe hosted the general conference of the ECCAR city alliance on the welcoming cities. keys for an anti-racist culture topic.

The landmark exhibition YOU_ser: the century of the consumer at ZKM was dedicated to the impact of net-based global creation on art and society.

© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe.

Together with the Experimentalstudio Freiburg of SWR, the ZKM awarded the annual Giga Hertz Preis for electronic music for the first time.

The municipal council defined the Alter Schlachthof urban redevelopment area as a creative park. Located on site, the K3 Kultur- und Krativwirtschaftsbüro is run jointly by the department of cultural affairs and the office for business development.

The Filmboard Karlsruhe e.V. was founded as a network for filmmakers based in Karlsruhe. The network includes over 60 filmmakers and film productions.


The ARD Radio Play Days took place at the ZKM for the first time and are now held annually as a forum for radio play fans. The four-to-five day radio play festival presents outstanding new productions by ARD and Deutschlandradio, as well as live radio plays and sound art.


© Presseamt Stadt Karlsruhe, Foto: Roland Fränkle.

Platz der Grundrechte (Fundamental Rights Square), a participatory work of art by Jochen Gerz, was inaugurated as a public space.


Making Things Public, a pioneering exhibition at ZKM unfolded the problem of representation in politics and ventured into the renewal of politics in the spirit of art and science.


The IMWI (Institute for Music Science and Music Informatics), the only one of its kind in the world, was founded at the Karlsruhe Academy of Music. The idea of an institutionalized combination of two subjects, which previously only existed separately, was presented the Selected Landmark of the Federal Republic of Germany federal award in 2008.


Messe Karlsruhe was launched to host national and international trade and public exhibitions and major events, including Art Karlsruhe, Learntec, LOFT – Das Designkaufhaus, and IT-Trans.


The first Silent Film Weekend took place, and later produced the annual Stummfilmfestival (Silent Film Festival). 


Foto: Florian Köhler, cheatha.de (CC-BY 4.0).

Founded as part of the Chaos Computer Club Entropia e.V., it is a place for hackers, Haecksen (female hackers) and curious people from Karlsruhe and the surrounding areas. The association has been organizing Gulaschprogrammiernacht, a 4-day congress since 2002.

1990 – 2000


The landmark exhibition net_condition at ZKM focused on the artistic view of the relationship between society and technology at the time.


The annual Independent Days | International Film Festival (IDIF) for independent films and low-budget and no-budget films was held in Karlsruhe for the first time.


© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Foto: Uli Deck

With great public and international attention,  ZKM | Center for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe (today, ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe) opened in the former production halls of the now listed IWKA.


© CyberLab, Foto: Nadja Eiselin

CyberForum e.V. was founded as a public-private partnership to support start-ups, companies and training initiatives for future professions. The first CyberCongress organised by the association took place at the ZKM in 1998.


The annual Open-Air-Kinonächte, an open air film festival, was held at the Schloss Gottesaue (Gottesaue palace) for the first time.


Town partnership agreements were signed with Krasnodar in Russia and Timişoara in Romania.

© ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Foto: Katrin Paul.

The ZKM Media Art Prize with DM 110,000 donated by Siemens was awarded to three artists for the first time during the Multimediale event.

The Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Art and Design) started its work in the summer semester.


The annual African Summer Festival, dedicated to the multi-faceted African continent, was launched. In addition to concerts, the festival offers insights into the arts and crafts culture of various African countries.

On the occasion of the initiation of ZKM and HfG Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe Academy of Music started up it’s ComputerStudio in order to combine musical practice with current media technologies in an academic environment. As a result, in 1993, the first professorship for Music Informatics was established.

1980 – 1990


Kulturring Karlsruhe e.V. was founded as a cross-disciplinary association of cultural institutions in Karlsruhe. With independent sponsorship, it is designed to afford the independent art and cultural scene in Karlsruhe increased prominence and to improve the conditions for its development.

The ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe was founded.


The special exhibition Otto Piene and the Cavs on the director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge was shown at the Badischer Kunstverein as part of the 1988 annual exhibition of the German Artists’ Association.


Karlsruhe and Halle an der Saale established a town partnership.

The comunities Bruchsal, Bretten, Bühl, Ettlingen, Gaggenau, Karlsruhe and Rastatt established the Karlsruhe Technology Region to jointly present and represent the interests of the region. The city of Baden-Baden and the administrative districts of Karlsruhe and Rastatt also joined later on.


The trailblazing exhibition Holomedia `86 – Fascination in Light and Sound took place in the Städtische Galerie in the Prinz-Max-Palais and attracts around 70,000 visitors.


The “Artificial Intelligence” Collaborative Research Centre was established by the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Karlsruhe in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing in Karlsruhe and the faculties of the Universities of Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken.

© DAS FEST, Foto: Steffen Eirich.

Das Fest took place for the first time at the Günther-Klotz-Anlage. It is now one of the largest annual open-air events in Germany.


The Kulturzentrum Tempel was created as an independent socio-cultural centre and creative pool for artists and cultural workers of the independent scene. The annual Tanzfestival (dance festival) is held here, since 2010 in cooperation with ZKM and Kinemathek.

© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/StS 4/265 (Ausschnitt).

Werner Zorn received and sent Germany’s first e-mail from CsNet via the address zorn@germany at the University of Karlsruhe.


The Europäische Kulturtage (European Cultural Days festival) was held for the first time, initially on an annual basis and every two years from 1992 onwards.

International computer experts and scientists from related fields met for the 8th Artificial Intelligence World Congress in Karlsruhe.


© Tollhaus, Foto: Bernadette Wozniak-Fink

The Tollhaus cultural association was created to replace the Folk-Club founded in autumn 1977. Here, in 1984, the Zeltival (tent festival) was organised for the first time. In 1992, Tollhaus moved to the weighing house of the Alter Schlachthof complex.

1970 – 1980


© Picabay Licence.

The Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe organized the Händel-Tage until 1984, before the city became the youngest of the three Händel Festival venues in 1985.


The Kinemathek Karlsruhe, a publicly funded art house cinema, opened as a municipal cinema in Karlsruhe. The cinema caters for artistic movies, often in original language with subtitles, shows films from museum collections and hosts the Lesbian-Gay Film Days (today, Pride Pictures).


Germany’s first Faculty of Computer Science, at the time a completely new field of research, was founded at the University of Karlsruhe.

1960 – 1970


© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/BA Schlesiger A20/73/2/22.

Karlsruhe received the Europe Prize for its efforts towards European integration. The city holds a Europe Day, a Europe Week and promotes pupil and student exchanges.

Town partnership with Nottingham in the UK was concluded.

1930 – 1960


Karlsruhe entered into town partnership with Nancy in France.


© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/BA Schlesiger A1/17/3/13.

Karlsruhe was chosen as the seat of the highest German legal institutions. The Federal Court of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General were set up in Karlsruhe, followed in 1951 by the Federal Constitutional Court.

1920 – 1930


GEDOK (the Association of Communities of female Artists and Art Sponsors) launched its regional group in Karlsruhe. It organises exhibitions, concerts, readings, lectures, guided tours, studio and workshop visits, symposia and member meetings.

1910 – 1920


The fusion of the antiquities collection with the Baden Museum of Decorative Arts created the Badische Landesmuseum (Baden State Museum), which opened in Karlsruhe Palace in 1921.

1900 – 1910


The Grand Duchy of Baden is the first German state to officially grant women full access to university studies by decree.

1710 – 1900


© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe Sig.8/Alben 080:028

Germany’s first girls’ grammar school was founded in Karlsruhe.


Foto: Günter Josef Radig (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE).

In Karlsruhe Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of invisible electromagnetic waves (radio waves). His discovery provided the basis for wireless communication, radio and the Internet.


The building of the current Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Karlsruhe is built to house the Natural History Office and the Court Library, which Karoline Luise von Baden had already transformed into an important scientific collection between 1752 and 1783.


The Großherzogliche Badische Kunstschule Karlsruhe, predecessor of the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe, was founded by the then Prince Regent and later Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden. In 1920 the art school merged with the Kunstgewerbeschule. The academy, then renamed Badische Landeskunstschule, attained special significance as a centre of Neue Sachlichkeit.


© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/PBS oXIVd 135.

Grand Duke Ludwig of Baden founded the Polytechnic School and thus the first technical university in Germany. Today’s KIT emerged from this school.


The Ständehaus in Karlsruhe is the first parliament building in Germany specifically built for this purpose.


Badischer Kunstverein was founded in Karlsruhe as the second art association in Germany.

Baden’s liberality was embodied by the most progressive and liberal constitution of its time worldwide.


With the support of the city, a private musical education institute for wind players and, two years later, a Singanstalt (singing institution) for singers were founded. The Musikbildungsanstalt was launched in 1837 with state and municipal support. The Großherzogliche Konservatorium was merged with the Musikbildungsanstalt in 1910. The Badische Hochschule für Musik was founded in 1929, and was acquired by the State of Baden-Württemberg in 1971 and transferred into the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe.


The new Grand Ducal Court Theatre on Schlossplatz, planned by Friedrich Weinbrenner, was opened. The theatre was previously housed in the palace. After the destruction of the Weinbrenner building by a theatre fire in 1847, the successor building was opened by court architect Heinrich Hübsch in 1853. Badisches Staatstheater, today’s existing theatre building, was built between 1970 and 1975 according to plans by the architect Helmut Bätzner.


Margrave Karl Friedrich took up permanent residence in Karlsruhe. In the spirit of the Enlightenment, the margrave carried out numerous reforms that made the state of Baden a model state. The Mahlerey Cabinet built by Karoline Luise and the Natural History Cabinet later formed an important part of the two major museums in Karlsruhe, the Kunsthalle and the Naturkundemuseum.


© Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/PBS XVI 18.

Karlsruhe was founded by Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach. A Privilegienbrief (deed of privilege) from 1715, which was renewed in 1722, was intended to promote the settlement of the population, such as business start-ups, trade and industry. Freedom of conscience and the practice of religion were also granted.