International Summer School 2022

What is the value of things?
Concepts of an economy of collecting

International Summer School, Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association

18 to 29 July 2022
Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel

Gathering, storing and sometimes disposing of things are fundamental moments in the constitution of any collection. The collection thus becomes the result of a chain of decisions that are always related to the valuation of the things collected. In short: assigning value is a central category for research on and with collections.

On this basis, the summer school explores the question: What is the value of things? First, we want to discuss the plurality of concepts of value. How does the spectrum of value types fan out for the emergence of a collection, and how are these values justified? What value dynamics are things subject to?
We will, secondly, ask in particular about the relationship between collections as a whole and the individual things. What is involved in the transformation from "thing" to collection object? Is the collection more than the sum of its objects? What types of value are attributed to collections, and what new values do collections produce? How is the idea of "de-collecting" to be classified here?
Thirdly, we direct our attention to collectors and ask in which situations they become economic actors. From purchase to storage, exhibition and dissolution of the collection – what economic practices underlie collections and collecting? How do collections generate value?
Finally, we also want to turn to the collecting and researching institutions and examine their role as a switchboard in the valuation of things. To what extent do museums, libraries and archives function as "agencies of valorisation" of the material through their perceived authority? What is the relationship between scholarly interest in the treatment of objects and external indicators of their value? What role does the wider public play?

One particular focus of the MWW research network is digital methods for researching collections. Questions about the transformations triggered by digitisation are therefore of particular interest. During the summer school, concrete digital methods will also play a role: how does one get to the bottom of collection economics, and how can digital strategies help?

The summer school is interdisciplinary and combines seminars, lectures and excursions with the opportunity for independent research.


Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Hahn (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt)
Dr. Joëlle Weis (Universität Trier)

Lecturers (among others):

Dr. Annette Cremer (Universität Gießen)
Dr. Doreen Mölders (LWL-Museum für Archäologie Herne)
Dr. Dennis Niewerth (DSM Bremerhaven)
Prof. Markus Walz (HTWK Leipzig)

The Summer School is organised within the framework of the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association (MWW), founded in 2013 (www.mww-forschung.de). It is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


We will follow all official directives on hygiene and rules for safe distances related to the current Corona pandemic. If the situation requires it, we may hold parts of the summer school in an alternative format.


The working language is German, knowledge of English is required. The most important reading will be provided in advance. The afternoons are reserved for independent research, which will be presented by the participants at the end of the summer school.

Accommodation / Travel Expanses

Accommodation in Wolfenbüttel is free of charge for participants. An allowance for daily provisions will be granted.

Travel expenses will be reimbursed according to the standard rates of the DAAD.

Participation Fee

A participation fee of 200 EUR will be charged. In justified exceptional cases and upon submitting an informal application, it is possible to be exempted from the participation fee.


Martin Wiegand

Herzog August Bibliothek/MWW Research Association

P.O. Box 13 64
D-38299 Wolfenbüttel


The application deadline has already passed.

 Call for Application as pdf