Collecting Spaces – International Summer School, Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association

COLLECTING SPACES – INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL, MARBACH WEIMAR WOLFENBÜTTEL RESEARCH ASSOCIATION: The city of Weimar is a German “place of remembrance” par excellence. An essential part of its cultural topography are the collections, collection-related buildings, and interiors that have grown over centuries. Probably the most prominent example is Goethe’s residence at Frauenplan. During the poet’s lifetime, both his private rooms and the areas of the house that were open to the public were used for the academically-led and scientifically-sound storage and presentation of extensive collections. The rococo hall of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library is a collection space that is almost equally iconic, especially since the fire of 2004. Alongside the collection of paintings and busts, the book collection, spread over several floors, spatializes an intellectual idea of Goethe’s time. Outside the historical city center are two archives established at the turn of the twentieth century, whose intellectual provenance could hardly be more different: the historic building of the Goethe and Schiller Archive, which houses the written heritage of classical Weimar, and the Nietzsche Archive designed by Henry van de Velde in the New Style only a few years later. Both locations offer a view across Weimar to the Ettersberg, where after the Second World War an extensive collection on the crimes of the Nazi era was established in the former Buchenwald concentration camp.

Through the spatial turn in the humanities, awareness has been raised that spaces are not neutral vessels for collection objects. Questions surrounding collection spaces are therefore also of great importance for the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association, which will place this phenomenon at the center of an international summer school from 10 to 21 August 2020: In what ways are collection spaces semantically and symbolically charged? To what extent do they serve cultural memory and create personal or collective identity? What are their symbolic, political, and strategic goals, and how are these goals aesthetically expressed in buildings and interiors? How do they contribute to the organization of the knowledge embodied by the collections? What rules does the genesis of new, virtual collection spaces plan, not least in the context of digital transformation? The Summer School will pursue these questions by, on the one hand, tracing the historical development of representative collection spaces from the art chamber and the cabinet of curiosities to the museum of today and, on the other hand, reflecting on the significance of new spatial theories regarding the handling of collections. The relationship between private and public collections and between representative and functional interior design will be examined on the basis of magazine, depot, and exhibition space. Special attention will be paid to the phenomenon of the collection space on the level of the aesthetic imagination.

Application Procedures

The Summer School offers twenty spots for young researchers from all over the world who present their academic interest in the summer school topic in a letter of motivation. The offer primarily addresses doctoral students in the humanities and cultural studies as well as all collection-related courses of study. In special cases, advanced master’s students will also be considered. At least a passive knowledge of German is required for participation in the summer school. Participants from non-European countries who intend to pursue a concrete research interest in the Weimar Collections can informally apply for a scholarship for an additional one-week stay in the archives following the summer school.

The application should include the following:

  • Application form to be found on the application portal (personal data)
  • Cover letter
  • Letter of motivation (presentation of the academic interest in the topic of the summer school, max. 2 pages)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Brief outline of the dissertation project (max. 5 pages)
  • Copy of certificates and transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation from the applicant’s home university

If applicable, informal application for one-week stay in the archives following the summer school.

The deadline for applications is 31 March 2020. Please submit your documents exclusively through the application portal. Applications submitted by mail or e-mail will not be considered. For more information, visit

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by the end of April 2020. International participants will receive an invitation which can be presented when applying for a visa.

There is no legal entitlement to participation.

Accommodation and Travel Expenses

Accommodation in Weimar is free of charge for participants.

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

Participation Fee

The participation fee is 300 euros. An exemption from the participation fee is possible in justified exceptional cases and after submission of an informal application.