Duchess Anna Amalia Library


Hannes Möller – Fire Books | Ash Books

Wed 10 October 2018 - Sat 16 February 2019
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Study Centre

The Study Centre at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek presents its first-ever art exhibition, the first in a series of temporary exhibitions to be displayed in this extraordinary venue.

The artist Hannes Möller is known for art projects which explore the world of books and libraries. Following an inspiring visit to the Cusanus Library in Bernkastel-Kues in 2007, Möller soon integrated the theme of books into his artistic endeavours. He has since travelled to large and famous libraries, as well as smaller and lesser known libraries in Germany, France, Switzerland, England and Belgium. Viewing their collections, history, architecture and scope, he sees every library as a unique and inspiring waymark on his journey into the world of books. With their distinctive colours, lights, scents and dust, each library expresses its very own typical and sometimes mysterious character.

In this library cosmos, the artist discovers the individual books stored there. For his artistic projects, he often chooses the century-old exemplars, some exquisitely refurbished, others fragile and damaged, bearing the obvious signs of time and usage, hidden among the vast stacks in the "cathedrals of knowledge" (A. Manguel).

Using a special mixed-media technique based on aquarelle/gouache painting on handmade paper, Möller creates impressive images which one could describe as “book portraits”. Through artistic means he selectively elevates certain books from the masses and presents them as individuals.

The forty-piece exhibition “Fire Books | Ash Books” in the Study Centre of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek presents both painting cycles in their entirety for the first time. They portray some of the damaged and destroyed books left in the wake of the devastating library fire of 2004. The cycle “Fire Books”, created between 2010 and 2014, contains single portraits of heat- and water-damaged books which library conservators have worked to salvage. These represent the link to the “Ash Books” cycle, thirty pieces which comprise the core of the exhibition. Similar to his “Fire Books”, the artist examines these charred and sometimes unrecognisably fused items with extraordinary attention to detail. To achieve the highest degree of authenticity and proximity to the battered originals, Möller not only uses paint, charcoal and carbon black in his “Ash Books” paintings, but also mixes pigments with original ash and cinders from the burned books themselves.
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Restoration after the Fire
Salvaging the Books of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

Sat, 30 August 2014 – Sun, 9 August 2015, on permanent exhibition starting Fri, 8 July 2016

Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Historical Building, Renaissance HallTen years after the devastating fire on 2 September 2004, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek provided an in-depth look at the type and extent of the damage, as well as the restoration of 118,000 books and manuscripts, damaged by fire and extinguishing water. The exhibition presented the current status and the progress achieved as a result of the restoration measures. It illustrated the relationship between restoration decisions and the project organisation of the research library, the conservatorial-research field and the market economic conditions. The restoration-scientific concept in place in Weimar focused on the mass treatment of book bindings and paper restoration. The exhibition also documented the loss of books which were irrecoverably destroyed in the 2004 inferno.

The exhibition and catalogue were developed and produced in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hildesheim. The catalogue was published by the Michael Imhof Verlag.


Dante, An Open Book
Exhibition on the 750th anniversary of the poet’s birth

Friday, 21 August 2015 – Sunday, 26 June 2016
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Historical building, Renaissance Hall

This exhibition was dedicated to the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) whose works were the foundation of a vernacular literary tradition. His Divina Commedia, a treasure house of historical, philosophical and cultural knowledge, was the reinvention of the Christian portrayal of the afterworld in literature.

On the 750th anniversary of the poet’s birth, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek highlighted Dante’s significance as reflected in its historical holdings. During the era of Goethe, Dante and his works were the focus of intensive study which resulted in a flourish of new editions, translations, illustrations, author profiles and poetic emulations. The exhibition presented Dante in the form of an “open book” so that viewers could gain access to his multifaceted oeuvre and complex thinking.

In addition to descriptions of the displays, the exhibition catalogue also contained articles on the reception of Dante in early German Romanticism, German translations of the Commedia, illustrations and portraits.

Both the exhibition and catalogue were made possible in cooperation with the Institute for Romance Languages at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena.

Exhibition flyer


100th Anniversary of the Cranach-Presse
Book Art from Weimar

Thu, 28 March 2013 – Sun, 10 August 2014
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Historical Building, Renaissance Hall

In this edition of its annual exhibition, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek presented prints by the Weimar Cranach-Presse (1913-1931), its background and those who were associated with it.

The exhibition was developed in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the publishing house by the bibliophilic arts patron Harry Graf Kessler. Thanks to Kessler’s international interests and connections, the Cranach-Presse gained renown as an authoritative publisher of early 20th-century English typographical and book art. Working together with distinguished artists such as Eric Gill, Aristide Maillol and Henry van de Velde, the publishing house produced “book artworks” featuring trend-setting designs.

In addition to key works, e.g. Vergil’s Eclogues and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the exhibition displayed items from the years prior to the founding of the publishing house, such as a special edition of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. Other works included the so-called “war prints”, most of which were produced under Henry van de Velde’s direction. Kessler’s political texts dating to the years after World War I – most of which were published by the Cranach-Presse – served to illustrate Harry Graf Kessler’s activities as a politician and diplomat. The exhibition also highlighted the historical photo documents created in the printing workshop of the Cranach-Presse.

The exhibition catalogue was published by the Otto Meissner Verlag.

Exhibition Flyer


Galilei, Goethe and Co.
Friendship Books at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

Sat, 24 March 2012 – Sun, 10 March 2013
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Historical Building, Renaissance Hall

The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek is home to the world’s largest collection of friendship books (“Alba Amicorum”) dating from 1550 to 1950. The core collection, now totalling more than 1,000 works, was established in the years during which Goethe served as director of the Ducal Library. In 1805, he secured permission to purchase 275 friendship books from the Ulm book printer Christian Ulrich Wagner.

The exhibition featured 80 of these valuable works, providing insight into the origin, tradition and investigation of this literary genre. The works on display included albums in which Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had inscribed their words for posterity.

The accompanying exhibition catalogue, designed as a “Perpetual Calendar”, highlighted the especially personal character of these friendship books. Noting commemorative occasions and birthdays of one’s friends corresponded to the function of remembrance which their former owners had intended them to have.

Exhibition Flyer


Journey into the World of Books
Seven Centuries of Prints at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

Sat, 9 April 2011 – Sun, 11 March 2012

Exhibition opening: 8 April 2011, 6 pm, Study Centre

This exhibition offered insights into the library’s rich and universally-oriented book collection. The exhibition featured 50 exquisite literary works, such as Schedel’s World Chronicle of 1493, the Luther Bible printed in 1534 and Alexander von Humboldt’s American travelogue of 1805.

There were also books which possessed some special connection to Weimar, for example, the 1908 edition of Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo which Henry van de Velde personally designed. Each and every book opens a new and different world, and is a treasure in its own fashion.

Exhibition flyer


Literary homage at the court of Weimar

February 6, 2010 to March 6, 2011

On occasions such as accessions to the throne, weddings or entry to their castles, palaces or cities, homage was paid to the Dukes of Weimar with a »joyous Vivat« in the form of literary tributes. The Latin form »Vivat!« is not the only thing which seems strange to us nowadays: the phenomenon of homage – at least in the actual historical sense – has long since ceased to play a role in our lives. Homage and the magnificent literary tributes composed in this context are therefore now being remembered. Bound in velvet or colourful art papers, these works can be perceived as downright sensuous, being artistically furnished with hand-drawn, painted or printed illustrations. The carefully set typeface, the typography, also makes these texts stand out from the mass of printed literature. The exhibits are arranged according to the biographies of those who received the tributes, thus documenting the development of this genre. The literary tributes were composed by a remarkably wide array of authors: from pupils via members of the association of archers and arbalesters to writers of the calibre of Goethe, Schiller and Wieland.


»Duality in harmony. Correspondence between Schiller and Goethe«

September 18, 2009 – January 17, 2010

Schiller’s request to Goethe to help with the journal Die Horen (The Horae) in June 1794 marked the beginning of an intensive correspondence between the two poets which was to continue until Schiller’s death in 1805. The 1015 surviving letters and notes, all but a few of which are stored in the Goethe and Schiller Archive, document a unique bond between friends and colleagues to which Goethe himself paid tribute when he published the letters in 1828/29. On the occasion of Schiller’s 250th birthday, the Goethe and Schiller Archive is exhibiting a small sample of the correspondence between Schiller and Goethe in the Renaissance Hall of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek. It offers insights into the wide variety of topics and ideas explored in the dialogue between the two poets which enriched their literary works so impressively. First editions of their works, illustrated sheets and pictures from the Klassik Stiftung Weimar’s collection are also on display.

An exhibition by the Goethe and Schiller Archive in the Renaissance Hall of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek.


The art of bookbinding
Historical and modern binding in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

September 3, 2008 – August 2, 2009

The craft of bookbinding is closely linked to the origins of the codices which replaced scrolls in the early Middle Ages. The codices comprised folded single sheets, several layers of which were inserted inside each other before the whole was tacked together with thread to create a book block. The bookbinder’s work comprised the arrangement and insertion of the layers (pages) and the artistic design of the cover. Until around 1850, books were usually sold without fixed bindings, which is why the beautiful covers were individually designed in line with the owner’s wishes. The price was determined by the material, the binding technique and the elaborateness of the decorations. The most commonly used binding materials were paper, parchment and leather. The exhibition shows a selection of works of the highest artistic quality from the collection of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek. The displayed works include bound volumes prepared for important figures such as King Ludwig XIII, Pope Pius VI, Queen Adelaide of England and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


»In eternal friendship – Alba Amicorum from Weimar and Tübingen«

Exhibition of Alba Amicorum in Tübingen City Museum

February 7 to May 3, 2009

In cooperation with the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Weimar, Tübingen University Library and the attached university archive, Tübingen City Museum is exhibiting a selection of the loveliest Alba Amicorum from their collections. These so-called friendship notebooks, »Alba Amicorum«, were very popular from the 16th to 19th centuries, particularly in academic and aristocratic circles. The Alba Amicorum were used to collect entries by scholars, fellow students and other personalities; entries by the famous and people of high rank were particularly sought after. The handwritten dedications were decorated with small drawings, paintings or illustrations.

The exhibition also gives a representative overview of the unique collection held at the library in Weimar, which with 880 Alba Amicorum dating from 1550 to 1950 is the largest in the world. The foundations of the collection were laid with 275 Alba Amicorum acquired when Goethe was the superintendent of the Ducal Library. Since January 2008, the H. W. & J. Hector Foundation in Weinheim has been sponsoring a project involving the scientific investigation of the Album Amicorum collection in Weimar. The Weimar project is based at Tübingen University, which as an old university city also has a long tradition of Alba Amicorum.


The world of incunabula
The first printed books in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

December 2, 2007 – August 3, 2008

Movable letters – the technical term for letter types cast in metal – were the sensational invention of Johannes Gutenberg in the middle of the 15th century. The books printed up to December 31, 1500 using this technique are called »incunabula«, taken from the Latin word for »cradle«; they are also known as cradle books. Our exhibition shows the early offspring of an art which changed life back then just as radically as the introduction of computer technology in the second half of the twentieth century has changed ours. Print workshops sprang up very quickly, first in Germany and then throughout Europe. From the Bible to the travelogue, everything which prior to Gutenberg’s invention had been handwritten with considerable effort could now be printed.


What the years have given is snatched away in a moment
The restoration of the Weimar book collection

October 25 – November 18, 2007

Featuring more than seventy books and journals dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, this exhibition presents a selection of the replacements and additions to the collection acquired to date. The exhibits include rare historical prints, for example from the fields of philosophy, literature, art, geography and botany. Valuable works relating to Weimar and Thuringia and volumes with typical bindings are also on display.

To accompany the exhibition, Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht is issuing a publication about the restoration of the Weimar book collection. The books displayed at the exhibition are described in brief texts. The authors also discuss aspects of the project from bidding at auctions via book donations to restoration. »Es nimmt der Augenblick, was Jahre geben» (What the years have given is snatched away in a moment), edited by Claudia Kleinbub, Katja Lorenz and Johannes Mangei.