Introducing Alexander von Humboldt

Learn about the life and legacy of Alexander von Humboldt in this playful and enlightening animated video narrated by Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.

While he may not be a household name for many people in the United States today, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was one of the most famous figures of the 19th century. This four-minute video illustrates Humboldt’s long life of adventure, innovation, and influence – he published more than thirty-six books, spoke more than four languages, visited more than a dozen countries on four continents at a time when most people seldom left their hometowns, set a mountaineering record that lasted for over thirty years, and wrote well over 25,000 letters to an international network of colleagues and admirers.  Today, more than three hundred places, species, and natural features are named after Alexander von Humboldt, including a spot on the moon and two asteroids.  Watch and discover how Humboldt is, quite literally, out of this world!

This video was created in conjunction with the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture and is featured both in the physical exhibition and as part of the exhibition’s online content (