The Klassik Stiftung Weimar was the result of a merger between the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik and the Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar (Weimar Art Collections) which took effect on January 1, 2003. This amalgamation brought large parts of the art collection belonging to the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach under the Klassik Stiftung’s roof. Today it is responsible for more than 20 museums, castles and historic houses, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, the Goethe and Schiller Archive and several parks.
The Klassik Stiftung’s roots go back to the late 19th century. In 1885, Goethe’s collections and house on the Frauenplan were bequeathed to the Grand Duchy in the will of Goethe’s last grandson, Wolfgang Walther von Goethe. Goethe’s documents were inherited by Grand Duchess Sophie. The same year saw the foundation of the Goethe National Museum and the Goethe Archive, which after receiving Schiller’s estate in 1889 was renamed the Goethe and Schiller Archive.
After the abdication of the last Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst in 1918, the ducal art collections came under the aegis of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar (State Art Collections in Weimar) while the Goethe and Schiller Archive initially remained in the hands of the ducal family. In Spring 1919, Walter Gropius founded the State Bauhaus in Weimar, fostering the vital development of new cultural impulses parallel to the preservation of the city’s cultural heritage.
World War II left Weimar and its collections in a very sorry state. The expropriation which took place under Soviet occupation and the foundation of the Nationale Forschungs- und Gedenkstätten der klassischen deutschen Literatur in Weimar (NFG) (National Research and Memorial Institution for Classical German Literature) in 1953 brought the various sites together as a single institution for the first time. Kochberg Castle, the Nietzsche Archive, Ettersburg Castle, the Thuringian State Library (formerly the Grand Ducal and today the Duchess Anna Amalia Library), the park on the Ilm river and Tiefurt and Belvedere parks and their buildings also came under the administration of the NFG. After the reunification of Germany, these institutions and their collections were transferred to the newly founded Stiftung Weimarer Klassik in October 1991; this organisation was initially affiliated but became independent in 1994.
The Weimar Art Collections, to which a large part of the ducal art treasures passed after the abdication of the last Grand Duke, remained separate from the collections of Goethe and his contemporaries even after 1945. Only in the years after 1990 was it possible to reorganise the Weimar Art Collections, including the contemporary and Bauhaus collections, before they were finally merged with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in 2003.
As part of the amicable settlement concluded by the Free State of Thuringia and the former grand ducal house of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the continuance of the ducal art collections and the artefacts in the Goethe and Schiller Archive were secured for Weimar and its cultural heritage in 2003.