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Obituary: Dr. Wolfgang Guthardt

phaeno mourns the loss of its founding director. Photo credit: phaeno

phaeno mourns the loss of its founding director Dr. Wolfgang Guthardt

On 26 February 2021, Dr. Wolfgang Guthardt passed away in Berlin after a long, serious illness. The phaeno team mourns the loss of its founding director, who guided the fortunes of phaeno with a special commitment and dedication up until September 2013 and whose enthusiasm for the project he had taken to his heart will never be forgotten by anyone who knew him.

phaeno's Managing Director Michel Junge was deeply moved by the news of Dr. Guthardt's death. "He was phaeno's founding father, in the best sense of the phrase, and the center would not exist today without his tireless efforts and devotion. Perhaps his greatest gift was his ability to arouse passion and enthusiasm in others too for this unique and world-renowned project."

In 1998/1999, during his many years of service as the head of a government department in Wolfsburg, Dr. Guthardt developed the idea of expanding the ensemble of the VW Power Plant and the Autostadt on the city side with the addition of a Science Centre as a landmark attraction for Wolfsburg. The bold design by star architect Zaha Hadid emerged as the winner from an international architectural competition with top-class contestants and has from the very beginning played a significant part in the success of the Science Centre. Dr. Guthardt's collaboration with international specialists such as the exhibition curator Joe Ansel, who worked for many years with Frank Oppenheimer (San Francisco), and the then director of the Swiss Science Centre Technorama, Remo Besio, also helped define phaeno and made it great.

As chairman of the phaeno Foundation and managing director of its gGmbH, Dr. Wolfgang Guthardt built up Wolfsburg's Science Centre into a combination of recognised educational facility, recreational attraction and singular event venue from its opening in 2005 until his retirement in the autumn of 2013. As well as a constant stream of new exhibition highlights, his time at phaeno will also be remembered for a host of major cultural events staged there.

He was a person of inexhaustible energy coupled with the necessary perseverance – he was demanding, supporting, and also inspiring to others in the interest of realising his goals. He was a doer, and the success of the project was by no means a matter of course. In everything he did, he never forgot the importance of human kindness and appreciation – this made him a truly special person.

The phaeno team will preserve his life's work and carry it forward into the future. All our thoughts are with him and his family.

Friends, colleagues and companions can share their thoughts and memories of Dr. Wolfgang Guthardt in a book of condolence at www.phaeno.de/wolfgang-guthardt


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phaeno gGmbH

The world of phenomena Germany’s unique experimental landscape

The inquisitive and the curious can tangibly experience, actively experiment with and interactively explore over 350 phenomena at phaeno Wolfsburg. Tornados, magnetic levitation trains and luminous gases awaken a fascination for the enigmas and phenomena of nature and technology. There’s something to experience at phaeno for everyone – whether a specialist or just plain interested in the world around us.