Art and Memoria

The material estate of the Weimar Nietzsche-Archiv

This case study focuses on the material estate of the Nietzsche-Archiv in Weimar. The archive collection includes Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche’s personal and household effects, as well as authentic Nietzsche memorabilia and artworks associated with the archive. Since the archive was dissolved in the 1950s, most of its holdings have not been accessible to the public. The objects reflect the representational lifestyle and culture at Villa Silberblick and the development of Nietzsche iconography, which was greatly influenced by his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche.

This case study addresses two complementary topics relating to this medially heterogeneous estate:                                                                              

  • Nietzsches image in photography and art up to 1945
  • the residential and collection rooms on the first floor of the Nietzsche-Archiv

Until the end of World War II, the Nietzsche-Archiv with its library and the room where the philosopher died, constituted a ›modern‹ antithesis to the traditional Weimar sites. Whilst the Goethe and Schiller archive was reopened not long after 1945, the Nietzsche archive had no place in the cultural politics of the GDR. Half a century later, on the orders of the National Research and Memorial Sites of Classic German Literature in Weimar (NFG), the archive’s in situ collection was dispersed and the living area on the first floor was converted into accommodation for scholars.

After the reunification of Germany, the ground floor rooms were reopened. Redesigned by Henry van de Velde in 1903, these rooms represent the Nietzsche-Archiv’s connection to the ›new Weimar‹ .The first floor, which was home to both Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche and the terminally ill philosopher, is still closed to the public.

This case study has close thematic links to the → Space research group, which takes a methodically reflected approach to lost collections and collection spaces, with a particular focus on the potential of digital reconstruction.

In order to make this largely forgotten collection visible in context once again, the case study has three areas of activity:

  • NietzschePics, a digital portal for the material estate collection
  • Beyond the Painting, an exhibition about portraits of Nietzsche up to 1945
  • Academic publications and lectures

Bringing together the separately stored collections in digital form is a benchmark case for the planned → Virtual Collection Space. NietzschePics takes a look at material ›beyond the painting‹, which until now has not been relevant to the Nietzsche Source portal and is still only partially searchable online. In-depth indexing is required to create a standard data-based consolidation of separately recorded objects within the framework of the case study.

The exhibition focuses on the visually attractive but also historically complex collection in the Nietzsche-Archiv and will be held in cooperation with a larger museum. Within this framework, MWW plans to create multimedia terminals with a reconstruction of the historical collection rooms and further insights into the Virtual Collection Space.                                                                                                        

Alongside the exhibition catalogue and the activities of the → Space research group, the Art and Memoria case study will include additional publications and lectures to present research findings in relation to the local collection within the wider contexts of art and cultural history.

Former Staff

  • Stefan Alschner
  • Sophia Dietrich-Häfner
  • Christiane Müller
  • Christoph Schmälzle
  • Ida Schneider
  • Manuel Schwarz
  • Ulrike Trenkmann

Other Former Participants

  • Katharina Günther