Three joint research projects are at the heart of the MWW Research Association, formed by the German Literature Archive (DLA) Marbach, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. These projects address the latest developments in the humanities with regard to a uniquely diverse collection of objects, stored and preserved in the archives, libraries and museums of the three partner institutions. The incredible wealth of material is not limited to manuscripts and prints, however. Stored in the stacks and storerooms of the institutions is a wide variety of items – drawings and photos, sculptures and unusual specimens ranging from inkwells to typewriters, pieces of luggage to death masks.

In a series of three exhibitions, the MWW Research Association presented its projects to the general public, while offering a view of the entire spectrum of the collections. In addition to Martin Luther, whose legacy was the focus of the first exhibition in Wolfenbüttel and whose name, to this day, remains synonymous with the Reformation, a major exhibition on Goethe’s “Faust” in 2018 highlighted another “fateful character” of Germany history. Starting in September 2017, an exhibition in Marbach drew attention to a special social formation, “the family”, in particular, the scholarly family, which has come to symbolise the ambition to pass our cultural heritage on to future generations. All three exhibitions demonstrated to what extent innovative research can shift our established view of things and times in new directions beyond the limits of institutions and historical eras.


Martin Luther is one of the towering figures in Germany’s culture of remembrance. But who exactly are we remembering? Who was Martin Luther? Over the past 500 years, countless answers to this only seemingly trivial question have been advanced. Even during his life time, Martin Luther became a figure who was not only the object of cult-like reverence and bitter hostility, but who also served as the legitimising instrument and a medium for identity politics in changing social, political and economic contexts. A multitude of Luther images emerged, some of which have remained potent to this day: saint, heretic, prophet, Antichrist, father of the church, splitter of the church, enlightener, anti-Semite, genius, charlatan, national hero and prince’s servant.

The exhibition “Luthermania” presented four major cultural “arenas”, in which iconic images of Luther exerted a strong influence over long periods of time: Luther the Saint – Luther the Devil – Luther the Brand – Luther the German. The exhibits did not intend to help visitors understand Luther better, but rather serve as material agents which were supposed to increase Luther’s “visibility” with regard to prevailing prejudices, attributions of virtue, ideals and intentions. They were all successful to varying degrees in the “making of Luther”.

Conceptual design of the exhibition: Dr. Hole Rößler

The exhibition is furthermore shown by an extensive virtual presentation:

Download the exhibition flyer.

Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, 15 January to 18 June 2017


This exhibition examined the families of poets, artists and scholars: the legends of their origin, the sociology of their everyday lives, the construction of academic or accomplishment families, literary elective relations and fictitious lines of ancestry. In the 400m2 museum venue, visitors learned about the role these families played in the creation of art, literature, academics and tradition, and their efforts to obstruct and abolish the like.

The exhibition placed particular emphasis on the Marbach picture collection and the function of images in the process of the “making of the family”. What kind of visible order does a family require in order to create its social reality? How is it generated, archived and passed on to later generations? What familial images and narratives does literature propagate and reject? What poetic and pictorial potential lies hidden within the concept of the family? Some 300 exhibits highlighted the attempt of individual families to forge traditions, pass on cultural heritage and create continuities and lines, but also demonstrate the power of tragic histories, asymmetries, violations of norms, ruptures and decay.

Download the exhibition flyer

German Literature Archive (DLA) Marbach, Literaturemuseum der Moderne, 21 September 2017 to 29 April 2018


Goethe’s “Faust” is the most famous work of German literature worldwide. The drama portrays the once heroic, once desperate search for individual meaning in the modern age and, in a unique way, interweaves this ambition with the grand themes of human history. Faust’s pact with the devil and his amorous encounter with Margarete have sparked the imagination of many artists.

From 23 February to 29 July 2018, the MWW Research Association staged an exhibition dedicated to the “Faust” drama in cooperation with the Kunsthalle Munich. The show thus shed light on one of the most gripping works of European cultural history from the 19th century to this day. Around 150 items from the holdings of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar as well as other pieces from European and non-European collections illustrated how practically every generation since 1800 has developed its own unique relationship to Goethe’s “Faust”. The history of its reception very much parallels the cultural history of the modern age.

Download the exibition flyer.

Kunsthalle Munich, 23 February to 29 July 2018


the joint pdf-flyer to all three exhibitions