Projects of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Thuringia, represented by the State Chancellery of Thuringia, Department of Culture and the Arts.
The Klassik Stiftung Weimar was established on 1 January 2003 when the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik was merged with the Weimar Art Collections. This fusion placed extensive art holdings which had formerly belonged to the Grand Ducal House of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach under the curatorship of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Since then, the majority of Weimar’s cultural assets – at least those that survived the catastrophes of the 20th century – is now collectively managed by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. Five castles with their historic park grounds, over 20 museums, the residences of numerous artists and intellectuals, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek and the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv represent an extraordinarily dense ensemble of German cultural heritage spanning the 16th to the 20th century.
The beginnings of the foundation date back to the late 19th century. Goethe’s grandson Wolfgang Walther von Goethe died in 1885. In his last will and testament, he bequeathed the residence on Frauenplan along with Goethe’s extensive collections to the Grand Duchy. Goethe’s written estate was inherited by Grand Duchess Sophie. That same year, the grand ducal couple founded the Goethe National Museum and the Goethe Archive. The latter was renamed the “Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv” in 1889 with the addition of the Schiller estate.
Following the abdication of the last grand duke in 1918, negotiations between the former Grand Ducal House and the state of Thuringia resulted in the establishment of the Weimar State Art Collections in 1922. The Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv remained independent and was placed under the joint aegis of the grand ducal house, the state of Thuringia and the Goethe Society. The Grand Ducal Library was renamed the Thuringian State Library.
After World War II, Weimar and its collections were in a desolate condition. The East German government established the National Research and Memorial Sites of Classic German Literature in Weimar (NFG) in 1953. The cultural assets which had formerly belonged to the Grand Ducal House were gradually integrated into one central institution for the first time, but not the Weimar Art Collections. Over the years, the NFG assumed responsibility for Kochberg Castle, the Nietzsche-Archiv, Ettersburg Castle, the Thuringian State Library, the Park on the Ilm, Belvedere Castle and its park, and Tiefurt Mansion and its park. After German reunification, these historical sites and their collections were placed under the management of a newly established organisation in October 1991 which became an independent foundation in 1994, the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik.
After the last grand duke stepped down in 1918, the Weimar Art Collections were created to manage and preserve the former ducal art collections. Even after 1945, these remained institutionally separate from the various collections owned by Goethe and his contemporaries. It wasn’t until after 1990 that the Weimar Art Collections, including the collections of modernism and the Bauhaus, were restructured and then merged into the newly established Klassik Stiftung Weimar in 2003.
Through an amicable settlement between the Free State of Thuringia and the former Grand Ducal House of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, ownership of the ducal cultural assets and the holdings of the Goethe- and Schiller-Archiv was transferred to the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in 2003, thereby ensuring their preservation for Weimar and its cultural legacy in the long term.