Britta Dittmann

head of the archive and library


Mengstr. 4, 23552 Lübeck, Germany


The Buddenbrook-House in Luuml;beck as a literary place

The Buddenbrook-House is a literary museum as well as a research centre with an archive, an photographic archive and a library with the focal point on the Mann-Family. In the year 2000 on the occasion of Thomas Mann''s 125th birthday, we added a new stage to the varied history of the Buddenbrookhouse. A completely new literature house has been created on five floors to provide visitors with a total literary experience. Both new permanent exhibits, The Manns -- A Literary Family and "Buddenbrooks" -- Novel of the Century are at the center, complemented by further literary experiences and literary and cultural events such as specific guided tours, readings and lectures and special exhibits.
The Buddenbrookhaus does not have primarily biographically justified aura, but a literary. Thomas Mann and his brother Heinrich likewise active as writers were involved here as small boys in and out, because their grandparents lived here. The rank of the house results not so much from the biographic, but from the reflection of the biographic in the literary one. It owes itself the fact that Thomas Mann wrote his novel Buddenbrooks and settled the action settled in the house Mengstreet 4. And it owes itself above all the fact that this novel further-worked into the future - is evenly still read. The house in the Mengstreet has therefore also, which is forgotten again and again, a literary name. Literature and lives were received a completely special symbiosis and applied here it to represent.

There was a team, who has been responsible for architecture, exhibition organization and-conception. Two years architects, graphic designer and literary researcher worked close and very engaged together.
The financial support came from the Federal Government, the federal state Schleswig-Holstein and the town of Luuml;beck. This support shows the national relevance of this project. It has been registrated as an extern project for the Expo2000 in Hannover (it was the only literary project). The Buddenbrookhouse is one of the most visited places in Luuml;beck, next to the Marzipan Thomas Mann is the item people know about this town. During the year 50.000 visitors are coming to see the Buddenbrook-House and want to be informed about Thomas Mann and his novel "Buddenbrooks".
The history of the Mann family represents a chapter of German contemporary and cultural history. You''ll find the first complete exhibit about the Mann family in the Buddenbrookhouse. Beginning with the dissimilar authors and brothers, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, their forefathers, siblings and life partners, the exhibit covers the span from their contemporaries to their descendants in six individual stations.
A novel returns to the scene of the action. We allowed ourselves to be guided by this idea in creating the new permanent exhibit Buddenbrooks -- Novel of the Century. In the house in which a large part of Buddenbrooks takes place, the visitor is presented with the creation, plot and effect of the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Thomas Mann. The Beleacute;tage with the landscape room and the dining room with goddesses is arranged according to the instructions given by Thomas Mann's novel. The visitor shall see what he's reading in the book.
This permanent exhibition turns away from the role model of art exhibitions with its concept in favor of a new event of literature. For this reason we use sound and multimedia in the exhibition. The displayed archive is placed contrapuntal to the Buddenbrook-rooms in the Beleacute;tage. The diving into the world of literature is faced with the academic treatment of literature
We have attempted to develop a new type of literary exhibit that combines the spectacular with the academic, orienting ourselves on the basic concepts of Thomas Mann''s artistic view. Our exhibit calls on many different media to impart its content while conveying the central message: one has to pick up the novel and read it in order to truly enjoy its literary qualities.

The European dimension in the work and life of the family Mann and the special organization in the exhibition was appreciated with the Council of Europe Museum Prize 2002.


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