Auditorium of Kochberg Private Theatre © Klassik Stiftung Weimar

Research project

In commemoration of Winckelmann’s 300th anniversary in 2017, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the German Studies department of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg are collaborating on a research and exhibition project which reconstructs the epochal oeuvre of the Stendal-born scholar and highlights his lasting influence on European culture into the 20th century.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) is widely regarded as the founder of modern archaeology and pioneer of a historically-oriented study of artistic style. It is practically impossible to overstate his influence on European cultural history of the 19th and 20th century. His description of ancient Greek art as possessing »noble simplicity and solemn greatness« became established as the stereotypical form of aesthetics which emphasise beauty, timelessness, harmonious proportion and expressive restraint.

The exhibition centres on the projective character of Winckelmann’s vision of antiquity which not only offered solutions to the aesthetic and social challenges of his times around 1800, but also inspired aesthetic, anthropological and political debates in the 19th and 20th century. On the basis of contrary positions inherent in Winckelmann’s works, the commemorative exhibition presents his complex impact throughout history which has been frequently influenced by contradictory traditions of reception. In reference to Winckelmann’s personal appreciation for concrete visualisation, the exhibition highlights the sensual presence and fascinating arrangement of the displayed objects with respect to one another.

The project is managed by Dr. des. Claudia Keller and Denis Stante.

Management / Department:
Research and Education

Project directors:
Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Décultot (Halle), Dr. Martin Dönike (Halle), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Holler (Weimar), Prof. Dr. Thorsten Valk (Weimar)

Project duration: 2015 – 2020


»Archaeologies of Modernism. Winckelmann around 1900«
29 June – 1 July 2017
Goethe National Museum | Festsaal
Frauenplan 1 | 99423 Weimar


Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Stabsreferat Forschung und Bildung
Burgplatz 4
99423 Weimar
Phone: +49 3643 545-561
Fax: +49 3643 545-569