NEW YORK – February 19, 2020 – More than 200 years ago, a German scientist Alexander von Humboldt spent five years traveling across the South American continent, making revolutionary discoveries about the workings of the natural world. Now, in Smithsonian Channel’s HUMBOLDT: EPIC EXPLORER, historian and bestselling author, Andrea Wulf, follows in his footsteps, delving into Humboldt’s landmark insights into human-induced climate change, evolution and continental drift. The documentary will take viewers from Humboldt’s fraught childhood near Berlin through his legendary South American expedition – from the Orinoco River to the Andes Mountains, and his one visit to the United States. HUMBOLDT: EPIC EXPLORER premieres Wednesday, March 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.
Humboldt was just 29 when he began his travels in 1799 through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Cuba. He recorded languages, climbed Mount Chimborazo, studied Aztec artifacts and canoed down raging rivers. Today he is immortalized by the Humboldt penguin, the Humboldt Current that flows north along the west coast of South America and the Humboldt Institute in Colombia. “Everything in nature is connected” – this was Alexander von Humboldt’s revolutionary new idea that led President Thomas Jefferson to greet him as the greatest natural philosopher of his time. Upon visiting Washington D.C. in 1804, Humboldt became an advocate of the American abolitionist movement and, according to new research, may have inspired the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution. After returning to Europe and writing extensively about his discoveries, he became one of the most famous people on the planet, with thousands of people across Europe and the United States celebrating the centenary of his birth in 1869. Now, 220 years after Humboldt traveled throughout South America and Mexico to the United States, viewers will retrace his journey and groundbreaking observations.
HUMBOLDT: EPIC EXPLORER is a collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum has organized the exhibition “Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature and Culture,” which will be on view at the museum’s flagship building in Washington, D.C. from March 20 to Aug. 16. The exhibition brings together more than 100 paintings, sculptures, maps and artifacts to examine America’s national identity through its relationship to nature. Humboldt’s 1804 insights into America from his travels and friendships with prominent Americans such as Thomas Jefferson continue to be reflected in the spheres of American science, literature, politics, exploration and the visual arts.
HUMBOLDT: EPIC EXPLORER is produced by Spiegel TV for Smithsonian Networks, ZDF and ZDF Enterprises in association with Arte. Linda Goldman and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.
Smithsonian Channel™, a ViacomCBS Inc. network, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing factual entertainment, available in HD and 4K Ultra HD across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel, winner of Emmy® and Peabody awards for its programming, is the home of popular genres such as air and space, travel, history, science, nature and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are hit series including Aerial America, America in Color, America’s Hidden Stories, Apollo’s Moon Shot, The Pacific War in Color and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, Black Hole Hunters and Princess Diana’s Wicked Stepmother. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Channel Plus™, a subscription video streaming service delivering over a thousand hours of the Channel’s stunning and diverse library of documentaries and series in HD and 4K Ultra HD. Smithsonian Channel is also available internationally in Canada, Singapore, Latin America, the UK and Ireland. To learn more, go to smithsonianchannel.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.